New hope for an unusual form of heart failure

Until recently, cardiac amyloidosis was considered rare and untreatable.

Published: May, 2020

As America's population ages, heart failure diagnoses are on the rise — especially the type caused by a stiff, thickened heart muscle. The heart pumps adequately but can't relax, causing fluid to back up into the lungs, leading to symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue.

Doctors refer to this form of heart failure as "heart failure with preserved ejection fraction," or HFpEF. About half of all heart failure diagnoses fall into this category, yet the condition has proved challenging to treat. But cardiologists are now recognizing that about 10% to 15% of people with stiff, failing hearts may have cardiac amyloidosis.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »