UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Fabry Cardiomyopathy: Current Practice and Future Directions Yim, Jeffrey; Yau, Olivia; Yeung, Darwin; Tsang, Teresa S. M.


Fabry disease (FD) is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder caused by mutations in the galactosidase A (GLA) gene that result in deficient galactosidase A enzyme and subsequent accumulation of glycosphingolipids throughout the body. The result is a multi-system disorder characterized by cutaneous, corneal, cardiac, renal, and neurological manifestations. Increased left ventricular wall thickness represents the predominant cardiac manifestation of FD. As the disease progresses, patients may develop arrhythmias, advanced conduction abnormalities, and heart failure. Cardiac biomarkers, point-of-care dried blood spot testing, and advanced imaging modalities including echocardiography with strain imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with T1 mapping now allow us to detect Fabry cardiomyopathy much more effectively than in the past. While enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) has been the mainstay of treatment, several promising therapies are now in development, making early diagnosis of FD even more crucial. Ongoing initiatives involving artificial intelligence (AI)-empowered interpretation of echocardiographic images, point-of-care dried blood spot testing in the echocardiography laboratory, and widespread dissemination of point-of-care ultrasound devices to community practices to promote screening may lead to more timely diagnosis of FD. Fabry disease should no longer be considered a rare, untreatable disease, but one that can be effectively identified and treated at an early stage before the development of irreversible end-organ damage.

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