In amyloidosis, abnormal proteins in the body change shape and clump together to form amyloid fibrils. Those fibrils build up in tissues and organs, which can stop them from working properly.
ATTR amyloidosis is one of the most common types of amyloidosis. It’s also known as transthyretin amyloidosis. It involves a protein known as transthyretin (TTR), which is produced in the liver.
In people with ATTR amyloidosis, TTR forms clumps that may build up in the nerves, heart, or other parts of the body. This can cause potentially life threatening organ failure.
Read on to learn how this condition may affect a person’s life expectancy and the factors that influence survival rates, along with background information about the different types of ATTR amyloidosis and how they’re treated.
Life expectancy and survival rates vary based on the type of ATTR amyloidosis an individual has. The two main types are familial and wild-type.
On average, people with familial ATTR amyloidosis live for 7 to 12 years after they get their diagnosis, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.
A study published in the journal Circulation found that people with wild-type ATTR amyloidosis live an average of about 4 years after diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate among study participants was 36 percent.
ATTR amyloidosis often causes amyloid fibrils to build up in the heart. This can cause abnormal heart rhythms and life threatening heart failure.
There’s no known cure for ATTR amyloidosis. However, early diagnosis and treatment may help slow the development of the disease.
Several factors may affect survival rates and life expectancy in people with ATTR amyloidosis, including:
- the type of ATTR amyloidosis they have
- which organs are affected
- when their symptoms began
- how early they began treatment
- which treatments they receive
- their overall health
More research is needed to learn how different treatment approaches may affect survival rates and life expectancy in people with this condition.
The type of ATTR amyloidosis that a person has will affect their long-term outlook.
If you’re living with ATTR amyloidosis, but you’re not sure which type, ask your doctor. The two main types are familial and wild-type.
Other types of amyloidosis may also develop when proteins other than TTR clump into amyloid fibrils.
Familial ATTR amyloidosis
Familial ATTR amyloidosis is also known as hereditary ATTR amyloidosis. It’s caused by genetic mutations that may be passed from parent to child.
These genetic mutations cause TTR to be less stable than normal. This raises the chances that TTR will form amyloid fibrils.
Many different genetic mutations may cause familial ATTR amyloidosis. Depending on the specific genetic mutation that a person has, the condition may affect their nerves, their heart, or both.
Symptoms of familial ATTR amyloidosis start in adulthood and get worse over time.
Wild-type ATTR amyloidosis
Wild-type ATTR amyloidosis isn’t caused by any known genetic mutations. Instead, it develops as a result of aging processes.
In this type of ATTR amyloidosis, TTR becomes less stable with age and begins to form amyloid fibrils. Those fibrils are most commonly deposited in the heart.
This type of ATTR amyloidosis typically affects men over the age of 70 years old.
Other types of amyloidosis
Several other types of amyloidosis also exist, including AL and AA amyloidosis. These types involve different proteins than ATTR amyloidosis.
AL amyloidosis is also known as primary amyloidosis. It involves abnormal antibody components, known as light chains.
AA amyloidosis is also called secondary amyloidosis. It involves a protein known as serum amyloid A. It’s usually triggered by an infection or inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have ATTR amyloidosis, your doctor’s recommended treatment plan will depend on the specific type you have, as well as the organs that are affected and the symptoms that develop.
Depending on your diagnosis, they may prescribe one or more of the following:
- a liver transplant, which is used to treat some cases of familial ATTR amyloidosis
- ATTR silencers, a class of medications that help reduce the production of TTR in people with familial ATTR amyloidosis
- ATTR stabilizers, a class of medications that may help stop TTR from forming amyloid fibrils in people with familial or wild-type ATTR amyloidosis
Your doctors may also recommend other treatments to help manage potential symptoms and complications of ATTR amyloidosis.
For example, these supportive treatments may include dietary changes, diuretics, or surgery to help treat heart failure.
Other treatments for ATTR amyloidosis are also being studied in clinical trials, including drugs that may help clear amyloid fibrils from the body.
If you have ATTR amyloidosis, talk to your doctor to learn more about your treatment options and long-term outlook.
Early diagnosis and treatment may help slow the development of the disease, relieve symptoms, and improve your life expectancy.
Your doctor’s recommended treatment plan will depend on the specific type of the disorder that you have, as well as the organs that are affected.
New treatments may also become available in the future to help improve survival rates and quality of life in people with this condition.
Your doctor can help you learn about the latest treatment developments.