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Virgil Abloh, 41, was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and CEO of fashion house Off-White.
Abloh was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma in 2019.
Symptoms can include swelling of the feet, legs, ankles, or abdomen.
Fashion designer Virgil Abloh died Sunday following a private, years-long battle with a rare and aggressive heart cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.
Abloh, 41, was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and CEO of fashion house Off-White.
A post on the designer's Instagram page divulged details of his illness, which he kept private since his diagnosis in 2019.
Here's what you need to know about cardiac angiosarcoma, the illness that ended his life.
Risk factors for cardiac angiosarcoma
It's unclear what causes cardiac angiosarcoma. Experts generally agree that it begins with abnormal cell division, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Risk factors may include smoking, sun exposure, consumption of poisonous mushrooms, and radiation exposure, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, but experts are still divided on the causes.
Currently, experts do not know how to prevent cardiac angiosarcoma.
Symptoms are wide-ranging
Symptoms of cardiac sarcocoma may vary depending on where the tumor is located on the heart.
Most angiosarcomas occur in the right upper chamber of the heart, so symptoms result from a blockage of blood flow to and from that area. Swelling of the feet, legs, ankles, or abdomen, as well as distended neck veins, could indicate a blockage, according to Stanford Health Care.
If the tumor is on the pericardium — the sac that surrounds the heart — symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and palpitations.
How it's diagnosed
Cardiac angiosarcoma is diagnosed using body scans such as MRI, ECG, echocardiogram, or an X-ray, often combined with a biopsy, according to Cedars-Sinai.
Treating cardiac sarcoma
Treating cardiac sarcoma is often difficult. If the disease progresses to the point of emerging symptoms, it's likely that it has spread to other parts of the body, according to Cedars-Sinai.
If the cancer has spread, doctors may recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy to shrink the tumors.
Tumors in the heart may be removed with open-heart surgery in combination with chemo. However, it's a difficult surgery that may not be possible depending on the location of the tumor.
The next option would be a heart transplant, which comes with its own risks. A patient must receive immunosuppressive medication to prevent the body from rejecting the transplants, but the medication may stimulate new new tumor growth, according to Cedars-Sinai.
Read the original article on Insider