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Amyloidosis in the heart is a rare condition affecting an estimated 10,000 Americans. But the true incidence could be far higher since cardiologists often mistake it for garden-variety heart failure with no known cause. “It’s potentially a far more common condition disorder than it appears to be,” said Dr. Rodney Falk, director of the Brigham’s cardiac amyloidosis program, especially in African Americans who have a 4 percent likelihood of carrying a genetic mutation for the condition.
Falk estimates that 10 to 15 percent of blacks diagnosed with heart failure have signs of amyloidosis — such as an enlarged heart on an imaging test — and should be getting a genetic test to see if they have the mutation.
“It’s a disease that’s potentially treatable,” Falk said, “but if it’s not caught early enough, it will kill you.”