Secondary systemic amyloidosis is a disorder in which abnormal proteins build up in tissues and organs. Clumps of the abnormal proteins are called amyloid deposits.
Secondary means it occurs because of another disease or situation. For example, this condition usually occurs as a result of long-term (chronic) infection or chronic inflammatory disease. Primary amyloidosis means there is no other disease that is causing the condition.
Systemic means that the disease affects the entire body.
The exact cause of amyloidosis is unknown. You are more likely to develop secondary systemic amyloidosis if you have a long-term infection or inflammation.
This condition may occur with:
- Ankylosing spondylitis -- a form of arthritis that mostly affects the bones and joints at the base of the spine
- Bronchiectasis -- disease in which the large airways in the lungs are damaged
- Chronic osteomyelitis -- bone infection
- Cystic fibrosis -- disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body
- Familial Mediterranean fever -- inherited disorder of repeated fevers and inflammation that often affects the lining of the abdomen, chest, or joints
- Hairy cell leukemia -- a type of blood cancer
- Hodgkin disease -- cancer of the lymph tissue
- Juvenile chronic arthritis -- arthritis that affects children
- Kidney dialysis
- Multiple myeloma -- a type of blood cancer
- Reiter syndrome -- a group of conditions that causes swelling and inflammation of the joints, eyes, and urinary and genital systems)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjögren syndrome -- an autoimmune disorder in which the glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed
- Systemic lupus erythematosus -- an autoimmune disorder
Symptoms of secondary systemic amyloidosis depend on which body tissue is affected by the protein deposits. These deposits damage normal tissues, leading to the symptoms or signs of this illness:
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask about your symptoms.
Tests that may be done include:
The condition that is causing the amyloidosis should be treated. In some cases, the drug colchicine or a biologic drug (medicine that treats the immune system) is prescribed.
How well a person does depends on which organs are affected and whether the disease that is causing it can be controlled. If the disease involves the heart and kidneys, it may lead to organ failure and death.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you have symptoms of this condition. The following are serious symptoms that need prompt medical attention:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Weak grip
If you have a disease that is known to increase your risk for this condition, make sure you get it treated. This may help prevent amyloidosis.
Amyloidosis - secondary systemic
Gertz MA. Amyloidosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 188.
Review Date 5/21/2017
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.