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Expert Insights: Amyloidosis – A Brief Clinical Overview

Dr. Sarah S. Lee, Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology, at the City of Hope, provides a brief yet comprehensive clinical overview of amyloidosis. In this video Dr. Lee discusses the breadth of amyloidosis, the wide range of symptom presentations, and which organs are typically involved. Focusing on AL (light chain) and TTR (transthyretin) types, she then goes through a diagnostic workup to arrive at a diagnosis, stressing the importance of typing once the presence of amyloid has been confirmed. Concluding her overview, Dr. Lee describes treatments available and how they impact patient prognosis and quality of life.

 

Bicep Bunching & Amyloidosis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often called “Popeye Deformity,” bicep bunching is visible when the patient flexes their arm, giving the appearance of Popeye-like arms. While it is the result of a torn tendon, it can be a leading indicator of more serious issues.

 

WHAT IS IT?

When the bicep tendon is ruptured, patients develop a bunching of the biceps upon flexion of the arm against gentle resistance. Tendon ruptures occur largely in the dominant arm of each patient, with one-quarter of patients developing ruptures in both arms. Interestingly, of those who had a rupture, 37.8% didn’t know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below watch a video from The Lancet showing what bicep bunching looks like.

 

WHAT DOES IT POTENTIALLY INDICATE?

Two things.

1.  Bicep bunching may be a marker for ATTRwt. According to MedPage Today, spontaneous ruptures of the distal biceps tendon may be a marker of wild-type transthyretin (TTR) cardiac amyloidosis, a single-center study found. The presentation of a tendon rupture, an easily elicited diagnostic sign, in a patient with HFpEF should raise suspicion for wild-type TTR cardiac amyloidosis.

The picture below (Source: JAMA September 12, 2017 Volume 318, Number 10) offers examples of ruptured biceps tendon in two patients with biopsy-proven ATTRwt Cardiac Amyloidosis. ATTRwt indicates wild-type transthyretin amyloidosis. Patient 1 with prior rupture of the biceps tendon and bunching of the biceps with flexion. Patient 2 with acute rupture of the biceps tendon in the left arm; the tendon rupture occurred with trivial trauma, five years after Cardiac Amyloidosis diagnosis.

2.  ATTRwt may contribute to heart failure. Wild-type transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTRwt) is increasingly recognized as an important cause of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Bicep bunching may be a marker of wild-type transthyretin (TTR) cardiac amyloidosis, potentially giving physicians an easy way to determine the underlying cause of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in some patients. Those who were aware, reported that the distal biceps tendon ruptured approximately five years prior to heart failure diagnosis, thus perhaps offering a leading insight.

In addition, early diagnosis of wild-type TTR cardiac amyloidosis (ATTRwt) is important because treatments are now available to slow, if not halt, disease progression. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of ATTRwt is often not considered in bicep bunching cases due to the perceived rarity of the disease.

“The clinical importance [of this study] is that the detection of a ruptured distal biceps tendon may be a clue for the diagnosis of wild-type TTR amyloidosis as the cause for heart failure. This diagnosis is often overlooked in clinical practice, so this relatively simple evaluation could increase detection of the disease,” said Stuart Katz, MD, of NYU Langone Health. “Enhanced detection could lead to better treatment.”

 

EXPERT INSIGHTS VIDEO ON MUSCULOSKELETAL MANIFESTATIONS

Dr. Shari Liberman, a hand and upper extremities surgeon from Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, discussed six orthopedic manifestations and their pathology as it relates to systemic amyloidosis. Published studies, coupled with her experience, has led to a belief that these manifestations can offer important evidence of amyloidosis. She concludes with thoughts regarding an orthopedic differential and biopsy considerations for each of these manifestations.

 

Sources ———————————————————————————————————————
https://www.healthline.com/health/popeye-deformity
https://www.medpagetoday.com/cardiology/chf/67850
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818850/
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319657750_Association_Between_Ruptured_Distal_Biceps_Tendon_and_Wild-Type_Transthyretin_Cardiac_Amyloidosis
https://www.shoulderdoc.co.uk/article/721
https://www.thelancet.com/doi/story/10.1016/vid.2019.02.26.107679
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHXu_0IZ3vU

Diagnosing Amyloidosis: A Two-Step Process

Amyloidosis can present in many types with the three most prevalent being light chain (AL) amyloidosis, hereditary variant transthyretin (ATTRv) amyloidosis, and wild type transthyretin (ATTRwt) amyloidosis. Being a rare disease, diagnosis can be particularly challenging, given that the general medical community is not well educated on the malady and symptoms are often associated with other more common ailments.

Successfully diagnosing the disease requires a two-step process before an appropriate treatment program can be determined and implemented for each patient.

  1. First, if amyloidosis is suspected, testing must be done to confirm the presence of amyloid.
  2. Second, once the presence of amyloid is confirmed, testing must then be done to identify and confirm the type of amyloidosis.

It is crucial that the second step, where the correct type of amyloidosis is identified, as the treatment regime can be different for each type. Here we share two different patient experiences which illustrate successful execution of the two-step diagnostic process.

Patient Case #1

The first case involved a 23-year old female. In 2017 she experienced an episode of coughing up blood, after which she looked in her throat with a flashlight and discovered a sizable lump. The patient met with a local ENT, who incorrectly diagnosed allergies, and prescribed over-the-counter medicine. With no improvement, she met with a second ENT. Testing was performed on the patient’s left oral pharynx utilizing a Congo red staining biopsy process which confirmed the presence of amyloid in the tissue. Additionally, mass spectrometry was performed which successfully differentiated the type of amyloidosis as being ALH (lambda light chain and delta heavy chain). Subsequently, she was referred to a hematologist who ordered a bone marrow biopsy and blood testing. The bone marrow biopsy summary notes read “….in conjunction with the concurrent finding of monoclonal lambda light chain restricted plasma cells in the marrow by flow cytometry, the findings are consistent with involvement of the marrow by a plasma cell neoplasm.”

Additionally, the blood testing confirmed elevated light chains as shown below.

Patient Case #2

The second case involved a man in his mid-fifties. He began experiencing disease symptoms approximately 6-7 years prior to being diagnosed in early 2019. He initially experienced gradually progressing numbness in his feet, legs, hands and forearms, as well as bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Soon after, he began experiencing symptoms of lightheadedness and fainting. Additionally, he started experiencing progressive gastro-intestinal issues such as acid reflux, chronic coughing, and frequent bouts of constipation and diarrhea. By 2018, his physical condition was rapidly deteriorating, including a total weight loss of approximately 80 pounds. During this extended period of time he was seen by a variety of physicians including internal medicine, neurology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, oncology, and cardiology, none of who were successful in arriving at a conclusive diagnosis. His list of maladies included cardiomyopathy, peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, and gastroparesis, all which are classic symptoms of amyloidosis.

Finally, in early 2019 his condition was successfully diagnosed by an amyloidosis specialist. An echocardiogram was performed as well as a cardiac MRI (utilizing a gadolinium tracer) to identify amyloid fibrils and related damage in the heart tissue. These tests confirmed the presence of amyloid. A free light chain serum test was performed which ruled out AL amyloidosis, and Transthyretin DNA sequencing was performed to differentiate between the hereditary variant and wild-type of ATTR, which identified the T80A (legacy T60A) variant of transthyretin (ATTRv) amyloidosis. The two tests were successful in identifying the type of amyloidosis. The associated testing results are show below.

Echocardiogram Summary Notes

Associated Cardiac MRI Interpretation

DNA Sequencing Result

 

Once Diagnosed, Next is a Treatment Plan

Once the presence of amyloid is confirmed, and the type is identified, then it is time to treat the disease. In each of these patient cases the disease was diagnosed utilizing the two-step process to identify and confirm the type of amyloidosis. In both cases, successful treatment regimens were implemented which were effective in putting the disease into remission and/or halting disease progression.

Treatment options for amyloidosis have been vastly improved over the past several years. What was previously considered to be a foregone fatal disease can now be a manageable chronic disease. To ensure the best patient outcome, a timely diagnosis utilizing the two-step process, is essential.

 

A Patient Guide for Understanding Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a multi-system disease, making diagnosis challenging. In this informative patient guide, the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) discusses common symptoms, types of amyloidosis, red flags to be aware of, diagnostic tests and available treatment options. 

CLICK HERE to read/download ASNC’s Guide for Understanding Amyloidosis

 

Multidisciplinary Care for Cardiac Amyloidosis Patients

Multi-systemic diseases such as amyloidosis are complex to diagnose, but also complex in treatment and ongoing patient care. It takes a village. In this seminal piece, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) provides an Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Care for the Patient With Cardiac Amyloidosis. 

According to Dr. Vaishali Sanchorawala, Director of the Amyloidosis Center at Boston Medical Center, “The results and progress in the therapeutic landscape of systemic amyloidosis are unbelievable, unprecedented and unheard of for this uniformly fatal disease of the 1990s. But they are not enough, and therefore we need to work together to make a difference.

This paper is an absolute must-read for cardiologists and other specialties such as neurology, gastroenterology, nephrology and hematology.

To read, CLICK HERE.

 


Thank you.

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Source:
Kittleson M, Ruberg F, et al. 2023 ACC Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Care for the Patient With Cardiac Amyloidosis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2023 Mar, 81 (11) 1076–1126.
https://www.jacc.org/doi/10.1016/j.jacc.2022.11.022



ATTR-CM: Don’t Assume it’s Wild-Type TTR Amyloidosis

Historically it has been thought that the majority of elderly cardiomyopathy patients diagnosed with amyloidosis, ATTR-CM, transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy, suffered from wild-type, a non-genetic version of the disease that most commonly affects but is not exclusive to men over seventy years of age. A study in the UK conducted from January 2010 through August 2022 was conducted to determine whether this was true. It is thought that this study was the first time such a large population of ATTR-CM patients was studied to consider the actual prevalence of the differing disease types. The researchers stated purpose was “ …to estimate the prevalence, clinical characteristics and prognostic implications of transthyretin (TTR) variants among elderly patients diagnosed with ATTR-CM.”1

A paper detailing the results of the study, ‘Prevalence, characteristics and outcomes of older patients with hereditary versus wild-type transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy’ by A. Porcari et al.1, published January 16, 2023 in the European Journal of Heart Failure provide specifics about the methodology, statistical analysis of the results, and an analysis of the findings. An invited editorial about that article, ‘Variant and wild type transthyretin amyloidosis: two sides of the same coin or different currencies in different pockets?’, by Osnat Itzhaki Ben Zadok and Rodney H. Falk provides comments and an assessment of the study discussed in the A. Porcari paper.2  A helpful summary of the differences between wild-type and hereditary amyloidosis can be found here.3

With increased awareness of amyloidosis and the various types as well as developments in the technology used to diagnose and type ATTR amyloidosis, it has now become relatively easy to determine whether a patient is suffering from the hereditary version or the wild-type. Imaging has become preferred over the previous “gold standard” of endomyocardial biopsy. The study population was selected from those for whom ATTR-CM was established as the diagnosis using echocardiography, nuclear scintigraphy, and TTR gene sequencing at the National Amyloidosis Center (NAC) in London, the single center for diagnosing and treating amyloidosis patients in the UK. Correct diagnosis and typing of the disease could allow for appropriate treatment to begin resulting in the likelihood of an improved disease management and outcome for the patient.

A total of 2,029 patients were accepted into the study, none of whom had previously received genetic testing for the disease. Patients identified through gene sequencing as having the hereditary version of the disease, 141 total, were moved to medication as soon as it became available. Of note, all patients who had been treated with any of the then available medication for ATTR amyloidosis — tafamidis, inotersen, diflunisal, or patisiran, and all patients who were participating in clinical trials for therapies for the disease — were excluded from the study. This was to remove the possibility of the therapies skewing the results. All participants were 70 years of age or older. The patients were all followed at the NAC in London, the only center for the diagnosis and treatment of Amyloidosis in the UK. This allowed for unprecedented access to what is thought to be the majority of ATTR-CM in the country. All causes of death were tracked for the duration of the study.

The table below illustrates the number of ATTM-CM patients in the study who were thought to be suffering from wild-type amyloidosis but after testing were actually found to have a hereditary, variant, version of the disease instead. Specific data from the tests used to make this determination can be found in the article where the following table is found.

Correcting the diagnosis then allowed the patients to be moved to more appropriate therapies.

Further discussion in the Porcari article considers the study population and those currently listed in the THAOS registry4  by percentage of total ATTR-CM  patients in the United Kingdom, the United States, and the rest of the World for both wild-type and variant disease with the more common variants also identified. It is thought that as many as 20% of ATTR-CM identified as having the wild-type disease likely have a variant version but have not had genetic testing to correctly determine that.1

The article goes on to discuss the most commonly seen demographics and presentations of  ATTRwt-CM and ATTRv-CM in the elderly, and the effects of the various therapies currently available as well as their mechanisms and limitations.

While some symptoms of wild-type amyloidosis and hereditary, variant, amyloidosis are similar, it is easy to differentiate between the two diseases. With careful testing, as noted in the article, this then allows for the proper management and treatment of the disease. The concluding paragraph of the paper really sums up the findings and sends an important message.

In conclusion, up to 20.7% of elderly patients with ATTR-CM carry a pathogenic TTR mutation with a higher proportion still among specific ethnic groups. Among patients diagnosed with ATTR-CM, younger age at diagnosis, female gender, Afro-Caribbean ethnicity, AF, IHD, polyneuropathy and orthostatic hypotension are independently associated with ATTRv-CM. A diagnosis of ATTR-CM should prompt sequencing of the TTR gene in all patients, regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.”1

 

Sources:
1.     https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ejhf.2776  Prevalence, characteristics and outcomes of older patients with hereditary versus wild-type transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy, Aldostefano Porcari, Yousuf Razvi, Ambra Masi, Rishi Patel, Adam Ioannou, Muhammad U. Rauf, David F. Hutt, Dorota Rowczenio, Janet Gilbertson, Ana Martinez-Naharro, Lucia Venneri, Carol Whelan, Helen Lachmann, Ashutosh Wechalekar, Candida Cristina Quarta, Marco Merlo, Gianfranco Sinagra, Philip N. Hawkins, Marianna Fontana, Julian D. Gillmore, January 2023

2.     https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejhf.2808  Variant and wild type transthyretin amyloidosis: two sides of the same coin or different currencies in different pockets?
Osnat Itzhaki Ben Zadok, Rodney H. Falk, February 2023

3.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500251/   Transthyretin Amyloidosis: Update on the Clinical Spectrum, Pathogenesis, and Disease-Modifying Therapies
Haruki Koike  and Masahisa Katsuno, September 2020

4.     https://www.jns-journal.com/article/S0022-510X(15)00745-5/fulltext THAOS – The Transthyretin Amyloidosis Outcome Survey , F. Barroso, M. Waddinton-Cruz, et. Al., October 2015

 

Carpal Tunnel & Amyloidosis – An Update

The connection between carpal tunnel and amyloidosis is one that is already established. In fact, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of many potential symptoms of amyloidosis, but it is a symptom that tends to present early. It is not uncommon to hear patients started experiencing carpal tunnel five to ten years before they were diagnosed with amyloidosis.

TWO STUDIES

Clinicians are becoming aware of this connection and are starting to investigate the connection. Two studies have been published that investigate the connection between carpal tunnel and amyloidosis.

The first study from 2018 was a “prospective, cross-sectional, multidisciplinary study of consecutive men age ≥ 50 years and women ≥ 60 years undergoing carpal tunnel release surgery. Biopsy specimens of tenosynovial tissue were obtained and stained with Congo red.”3 Of the patients that were eligible for Congo red staining (n=98), a total of 10 came back positive for amyloidosis.3 That is a hit rate of just over 10%.

In a larger second study from 2022, a total of 185 patients underwent carpal tunnel release surgery, where 54 biopsies confirmed evidence of amyloidosis with Congo red staining.1 That is a hit rate of 29%.

The results of these studies are powerful and provide an opportunity to change the trajectory of diagnosing amyloidosis, particularly doing so much earlier. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, carpal tunnel release surgery is the second most common type of surgery, performed over 230,000 times every year.4

PERSPECTIVE FROM AN ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON

“Since carpal tunnel syndrome is often one of the earliest signs of underlying amyloidosis, those with undiagnosed disease could greatly benefit from tissue biopsies at the time of surgery. A positive biopsy result could initiate the road to disease stabilization and hopefully future cures, avoiding the all-too-often rapid decline of health before final recognition. Bringing the surgeon into the arena of amyloidosis diagnosis and care broadens the net for catching this disease early and prepares the surgeon as a team-player for future medical support.”

Charles Williams Sr., MD

Retired Orthopedic Surgeon

 

CONCLUSION

Screening for amyloidosis in carpal tunnel release surgery can be a low-cost method of detecting amyloidosis that should be considered.2

Most importantly, identifying and diagnosing amyloidosis early has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes and substantially alter the course of disease.

Truly life changing.

P.S. Click here to read our previous post on Carpal Tunnel & Amyloidosis

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Resources:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35469694/
  2. https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/cardiac-amyloidosis-look-to-the-wrist-for-an-early-diagnostic-clue/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109718381634?via%3Dihub
  4. https://www.orthoarlington.com/contents/patient-info/conditions-procedures/11-astounding-carpal-tunnel-statistics
  5. https://www.verywellhealth.com/open-surgery-or-endoscopic-carpal-tunnel-surgery-4083069
  6. https://mailchi.mp/ea0a0bb441eb/carpal-tunnel-amyloidosis

Peripheral Neuropathy & Amyloidosis

Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is a broad term that is used to describe damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. There are over 100 types of peripheral neuropathy that can be classified into four categories, with each type having their own symptoms and prognosis. In this article, we’ll discuss the types of peripheral neuropathy and its connection to amyloidosis.

 

Symptoms

One of the challenges with neuropathy is the fact that symptoms can vary significantly based on what nerve is damaged. Additionally, symptoms can develop over the course of months to years (chronic neuropathy) or come on suddenly (acute neuropathy). Some of the most commonly seen symptoms are listed below:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramps
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of muscle and bone
  • Changes in skin, hair, or nails
  • Numbness
  • Loss of sensation or feeling in body parts
  • Loss of balance or other functions as a side effect of the loss of feeling in the legs, arms, or other body parts
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Loss of pain or sensation that can put you at risk, such as not feeling an impending heart attack or limb pain
  • Inability to sweat properly, leading to heat intolerance
  • Loss of bladder control, leading to infection or incontinence
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting because of a loss of control over blood pressure
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or incontinence related to nerve damage in the intestines or digestive tract
  • Trouble eating or swallowing
  • Life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or irregular heartbeat

 

Types of Neuropathy

  1. Motor Neuropathy → Damage to the motor nerves control how you move.
  2. Sensory Neuropathy → Damage to sensory nerves control what you feel.
  3. Autonomic Nerve Neuropathy → Damage to autonomic nerves that control functions that are involuntary (ie. you do not consciously control).
  4. Combination Neuropathies → Damage to a mix of 2 or 3 of these other types of neuropathies. For example, damage to both sensory and motor nerves would result in sensory-motor neuropathy.

 

Amyloidosis

Peripheral Neuropathy is one of the hallmarks of amyloidosis, often seen in the transthyretin form of amyloidosis (ATTR). ATTR-PN, or transthyretin amyloid polyneuropathy, is a disease where the transthyretin protein becomes unstable and misfolds. This unstable protein (“amyloid”) then deposits in the nerve tissue, resulting in damage to these nerves. While amyloid deposits primarily in the peripheral nerves, it is not uncommon for amyloid deposition in the autonomic nerves as well. 

While peripheral neuropathy is most commonly associated with ATTR amyloidosis, it should be noted that peripheral neuropathy is also seen in 15-35% of patients with AL amyloidosis.

Most importantly, these are the most common and important signs and symptoms to be aware of, in order to diagnose ATTR amyloidosis.

Looking to learn more about peripheral neuropathy in amyloidosis? Check out this wonderful video, where the Amyloidosis Support Group hosts Dr. Chafic Karam to discuss the topic in great depth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PsSST2gOIg

 

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References:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14737-neuropathy

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/peripheral-neuropathy

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352061

https://practicalneurology.com/articles/2021-july-aug/neuromuscular-amyloidosis

https://healthjade.net/familial-amyloidosis/

 

ASB: 2021 Year-End Review

Our mission is to educate future doctors about amyloidosis, with the belief that heightened awareness will lead to earlier diagnosis and ultimately improve patient survivorship. We know that the level of medical school education about amyloidosis runs the gamut, from a small mention in textbooks to classroom discussions with medical professionals, although the bias is overwhelmingly towards the “minor mention.” In addition, you’ll read below about our exciting expansion into residency programs – those new physicians now practicing and diagnosing patients. As a result, we are confident our efforts will provide a valuable enriched exposure to this disease to augment the medical school curriculum and residency didactic programs.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • Last year, we set our 2021 goal at 60 presentations, with hopes that the year would emerge from the 2020 pandemic onset. For the most part, it did. We gave 34 presentations in the Spring, and 27 presentations this Fall. Combined, these 61 presentations were to more than 2,400 medical students and physicians! Go us!

 

  • Of the 61 presentations, 59 were virtual and 2 were in-person. Of note, both of the in-person were to our newly launched residency program outreach. Schools, with students returning to in-person in the Fall, remained largely closed to guests. Looking ahead we anticipate seeing a few more in-person, but virtual is likely here to remain in a big way for the foreseeable future.

 

  • Our recent expansion into internal medicine residency programs (over 550 of them across the U.S.) has already resulted in 6 presentations on the calendar for 2021 and 2022. Our custom video specifically focused for this audience has been very well received and provides an excellent clinical educational complement to our patient stories.

 

  • We average around 35-40 speakers, which allows for diversity in our speaker population’s disease state and flexibility in their availability. This has served us well.  (more on that below)

 

  • We are particularly delighted that our medical school student mailing list – those interested post-presentation in continuing to receive information about amyloidosis – continues to grow and is now around 350! Each month we email brief information about some aspect of amyloidosis, with the content pulled from experts and other trusted organizations. Our goal is to keep amyloidosis in their mind as they approach graduation and begin seeing patients. 

 

  • In October we held our first webinar, “Discover the Power of the Patient/Physician Collaboration” with guests Dr. Rodney Falk and hereditary ATTR patient Sean Riley. We ourselves were very pleased with the discussion and insights, although the attendance fell short of expectations for medical student turnout.

 

  • With the help of one of our speakers Dr. Kathy Rowan, a professor in social science, we received approval from George Mason University’s IRB (Institutional Review Board) in August and launched a study to understand the impact and effectiveness of our educational offering to medical students. At present, we are in data collection mode and anticipate in 2022 we will transition to analysis of the data. If the conclusions are insightful, we intend to seek publication.

 

  • Each Spring and Fall we reach out to medical school deans, updating them on our activities.

 

THE NUMBERS

  • Our target universe is approximately 160 continental U.S.-based medical schools – both their curriculums and student interest groups, and over 580 internal medicine residency programs.
  • We gave 61 presentations in 2021, and have 13 already booked for 2022. 
  • Since the ASB started in the Fall of 2019, we now total 153 presentations, to approximately 6,900 students and physicians. A complete list of schools and resident programs can be found below.
  • Of the 2021 presentations, roughly 20% of the presentations were within the curriculum; 75% to student interest groups, and 5% to residency programs.

 

SPEAKERS

The cornerstone of our effort is our group of wonderful patient speakers, who passionately volunteer their time to give back and share their stories of life with amyloidosis.

 

Our speaker group is diversified by geography across the continental U.S., by amyloidosis type, by organ involvement, by gender and age. This is a rather deep bench, but we have found it both helpful and necessary. Helpful in that we can maximize attendance if we work around the preferred dates and times suggested by the schools. Helpful in that we can match specific disease states with audience focus (e.g., a cardiac amyloidosis patient speaker to a cardiology student interest group). Also, helpful in rotating speakers and types of disease at each school, since we are regularly returning to groups which have overlapping students. And necessary in that periodically, a speaker’s personal situation may change and they need to step back either temporarily, or permanently. We are delighted that our group is fairly stable and increasingly seasoned and experienced in sharing their stories. That said, we are fortunate to have a steady pipeline of new speaker interest, which we spend time screening, qualifying and training to bring online – only if needed (so it’s rare we add new speakers these days). At present, we feel this is an appropriate number of speakers for our current and anticipated growth. 

 

Thanks to two of our speakers who have extensive experience, we offer in-depth guidance for new speakers, and current speakers wanting a ‘refresh’ in the development of their presentation outline and rehearsal training for their delivery. In addition, prior to most virtual presentations we rehearse and test the new speakers’ audio and video technology. For those partaking, it has been an appreciated additional level of support and we believe is translating to a higher quality offering.

 

ADVISORS

We are proud to have an impressive group of medical experts and influencers in the world of amyloidosis, some of whom are also patients, as advisors to support our initiative. Our advisors are active in our efforts and contribute their specialized expertise in a variety of ways, such as medical school introductions, grant requests, educational development, and patient speaker assessment/development. We are extremely grateful for their assistance and believe that, thanks to their contribution, the ASB will make an even bigger difference in the diagnoses of this disease.  You can see our prestigious list of advisors on our website page www.mm713.org/speakers-bureau/ 

 

TESTIMONIALS – OUR TRUE REPORT CARD

Feedback from students and medical school professors has been extraordinarily positive. It reinforces to us that candid and authentic patient stories are a valuable complement to the medical school curriculum, strengthening the learning and deepening the durability for these future doctors about this disease. This is exactly why we do what we do. Here are just a few of the testimonials.

 

The opportunity for second year medical students to hear the story of a patient with amyloid is invaluable. The presentation addressed aspects of pathophysiology they are learning and the human side of medicine. This presentation format offered an excellent teaching opportunity to inform doctors-in-training about this serious disease. Our students gained insight into the patient’s journey through diagnosis, treatment and the challenges ahead. We all appreciated the patient’s generosity in sharing her experiences. Having patients teaching medical students about amyloidosis will have a lasting impact on our future doctors with increasing awareness of this disease and ultimately will help future patients.  Theresa Kristopaitis, M.D., Professor, Assistant Dean for Curriculum Integration, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

 

Such a powerful presentation that I will carry with me throughout my whole career, no matter what specialty I go into! I not only learned the importance of keeping amyloidosis on my differential, but also the importance of really listening to your patients and working through the hard diagnoses together.   Solana Archuleta, MD Candidate, University of Colorado School of Medicine

 

I had several students make comments after the conclusion of the presentation that it was the best, one even said ‘exceptional,’ presentations given at our school from a patient.  The materials gave all of the students, including myself, a great introduction to some of the pertinent findings in patients with amyloidosis. Co-President of the Internal Medicine Interest Group, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix

 

Hearing Ed talking about his journey with Amyloidosis was an incredible experience that only further inspired me to want to be a better physician for my future patients. It is one thing to learn about a condition in the classroom, but hearing the real-world struggles with it from another human being provides a whole new perspective. Ed was open about his journey and shared his feelings during each step, giving us insight into what it is like to be a patient with Amyloidosis. I will take what I learned from this presentation and apply it in order to ensure that patients I see in the future do not have to deal with the same issues that Ed had to deal with.   Gurkaran Singh, MD Candidate, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson

 

Diseases such as amyloidosis are often managed by specialists, but it is important for primary care physicians to recognize these signs and direct these patients to these specialists. Increasing awareness of these diseases among all physicians will help patients reach an answer sooner and can have a significant impact on their lives.  Yue Zhang, MD Candidate, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine

 

We are saddened that we lost our co-founder Charolotte Raymond earlier this year, losing her battle with AL amyloidosis. Charolotte was our true inspiration for the Amyloidosis Speakers Bureau, and we know her passion for educating future physicians will be our guiding light. To keep our patient-led focus, we were thrilled to have one of our speakers, Lane Abernathy, join our Operating Committee. Lane, an amyloidosis patient herself, brings wonderful energy, experience and passion to help manage our efforts. We feel thankful to have her with us.

 

An additional word about our growing list of passionate volunteers, the majority of whom are active speakers. They help our efforts across many aspects of our operations, from management, to speaker development, to research, and video production. Their dedication to our effort is a testament of their belief in what we are doing to educate areas of the medical community, and we thank them all.

 

We are pleased with all we have accomplished thus far, energized by the feedback, cognizant that we have much ahead, and hope we have made you proud. After all, we can’t do any of this without you! As always, we welcome any comments you may have.

 

Stay safe, happy holidays to you and your family, and all the best for a new 2022!

 

Mackenzie, Lane, and Deb

Operating Committee of the Amyloidosis Speakers Bureau, sponsored by Mackenzie’s Mission

 

Our initiative is being well received by medical schools across the country. Below is a list of schools we have presented to at least once a year, whether through their curriculum or interest groups. After that, is the growing list of internal medicine residency programs where we also have presented.

 

MEDICAL / D.O. SCHOOLS

  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • California University of Science & Medicine, School of Medicine, San Bernardino
  • Case Western Reserve School of Medicine
  • Central Michigan University College of Medicine
  • Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
  • Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
  • Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Drexel University College of Medicine
  • Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
  • Florida International University Herbert Wertheim School of Medicine
  • Florida State University College of Medicine
  • Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
  • George Washington School of Medicine
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
  • Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
  • Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Rochester
  • Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Scottsdale
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • NYU Grossman School of Medicine
  • Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
  • Quinnipiac University Frank H Netter MD School of Medicine
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City
  • Tufts University School of Medicine
  • University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix
  • University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson
  • University of California Irvine School of Medicine
  • University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
  • University of Central Florida College of Medicine
  • University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • University of Connecticut School of Medicine
  • University of Florida College of Medicine
  • University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago
  • University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria
  • University of Illinois College of Medicine, Rockford
  • University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
  • University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita
  • University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • University of Minnesota Medical School
  • University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine
  • University of Nevada Reno, School of Medicine
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • University of South Alabama College of Medicine
  • University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia
  • University of Toledo College of Medicine
  • UNLV School of Medicine
  • Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
  • Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
  • Yale School of Medicine

 

RESIDENCY PROGRAMS

  • Central Maine Medical Center
  • Meharry Medical College Program
  • Michigan State University Program, Sparrow Hospital
  • St. Francis Medical Center Program, Jersey Shore University Medical Center
  • Texas Institute for Graduate Medical Education and Research (TIGMER) Laredo Internal Medicine Residency Program
  • Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

 

THE POWER OF THE PATIENT/PHYSICIAN COLLABORATION

In this unique webinar, you will hear Dr. Rodney H. Falk and his patient Sean Riley discuss the importance of patient/physician collaboration in diagnosis, using Sean’s personal journey to illustrate the challenges of diagnosing hereditary amyloidosis, a life-threatening rare disease that hides in plain sight.

Hear how listening, observing, and questioning are critical to getting to a diagnosis, along with the recommendation for providers to always bring an elevated suspicion and curiosity to find answers.

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