A Hidden Cause of Heart Failure in African-American Men

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smiling coupleHeart failure is a common fact of life for many people. However, as medical research progresses, cardiologists are identifying more and more of the many reasons for heart failure each day.

One cause of heart failure is amyloidosis, a genetic mutation that damages the functioning of the heart. African-American men have been found to be at particular risk for this genetic mutation. However, because it is often difficult to detect, it is often left untreated.

What Is Amyloidosis?

Cardiac amyloidosis causes a buildup of protein that stiffens the walls of the heart. As heart tissue becomes stiffer, pumping becomes more difficult and heart failure eventually occurs. In African Americans, the build-up of the protein transthyretin is very common.

Doctors have found three major types of Cardiac amyloidosis. Senile amyloidosis arises through the process of aging, while familial amyloidosis is caused by a hereditary gene. Light chain amyloidosis is considered the most severe form and can affect multiple organs along with the nervous system.

How Genetic Testing Can Help

Like other progressive diseases and conditions, cardiac amyloidosis is more easily treated in its earlier stages. Genetic testing for the gene mutation that causes this condition can be conducted at any time in your life. That can help guide lifestyle and treatment options that mitigate its effects before they become a cause for concern.

Not all forms of cardiac amyloidosis are caused by this genetic mutation. Senile amyloidosis can also lead to a build-up of transthyretin in your heart walls.

For African-American men, having this test is very important for avoiding heart failure. Even if your heart feels healthy, the test is relatively inexpensive and typically covered by health insurance plans. Identifying this condition in its early stages can be a life-saving discovery.