Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy: An Underrecognized Disease in the Black Community


The latest statistics on heart disease and its effect on Black communities are startling. According to an article in the Dallas Examiner, Black people are fifty to seventy percent more susceptible to heart disease than white people, and thirty percent more black people may die from the disease.

Furthermore, black adults received life-changing treatments such as heart pumps or transplants only half as often as white adults. These statistics were reported through a small study conducted by the NIH and in greater detail in the Dallas Examiner.

More specifically, transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), which is known to cause heart failure, is often undiagnosed in black communities.

The 100 Black Men of America/Dallas and Fort Worth

Pfizer has promoted an empowerment program for Black males called Voices for the Heart. The program, which is supported by Dr. James Carlisle, is designed to raise awareness of ATTR-CM. Dr. Carlisle explained that heart failure results from a damaged heart that is not pumping blood normally and may result in heart failure.

Symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, weakness, irregular heartbeat, and swollen ankles, legs, or feet. The disease is generally caused by high blood pressure, a heart attack, or ATT-CM.

Additional information about ATTR-CM may be found at

Don Chaney, NBA coach and basketball player, offered a personal view of his own experience. Years before his own diagnosis of ATTR-CM, Chaney’s grandmother and mother succumbed to heart disease. Chaney underwent various procedures leading to a diagnosis of heart failure. Eventually, tests revealed that he had ATTR-CM, a rare heart disorder. He suffered from carpal tunnel disease for ten years and self-diagnosed by assuming the pains and swelling were the results of years of playing professional basketball. Chaney said he had never connected his symptoms to his heart and therefore neglected to share his family’s medical history with the cardiologist.

Since he was living an active lifestyle and usually received excellent reports after his physical exams, it never occurred to Chaney that genes inherited from his relatives could result in his having ATTR-CM. Chaney is now a consultant for the Voices for the Heart Program in connection with the effort to bring about awareness of ATTR-CM.


Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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