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Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood disease. It's a form of a condition called vasculitis. This condition involves inflammation of the blood vessels.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

About Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki (KAH-wah-SAH-ke) disease is a rare childhood disease. It's a form of a condition called vasculitis (vas-kyu-LI-tis). This condition involves inflammation of the blood vessels.

In Kawasaki disease, the walls of the blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. The disease can affect any type of blood vessel in the body, including the arteries, veins, and capillaries.

Sometimes Kawasaki disease affects the coronary arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. As a result, some children who have Kawasaki disease may develop serious heart problems.

Overview

The cause of Kawasaki disease isn't known. The body's response to a virus or infection combined with genetic factors may cause the disease. However, no specific virus or infection has been found, and the role of genetics isn't known.

The disease can't be passed from one child to another....Read more about Kawasaki Disease
NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Salicylate for treating Kawasaki disease in children and to prevent long‐term cardiac abnormalities

Kawasaki disease is an inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis) which predominantly affects young children, under the age of five years. It was first recognised in children in Japan and is the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children in developed countries. Kawasaki disease can be difficult to diagnose because it has similar symptoms to many common childhood infections. The most important complication of Kawasaki disease is caused by inflammation of the heart (coronary) arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. This may lead to immediate heart problems and damage to the coronary arteries can also have long‐term effects. Salicylate (acetyl salicylate acid, aspirin) and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) are widely used to treat Kawasaki disease, although salicylate is generally avoided in children because of concerns about serious side effects, particularly the risk of Reye's syndrome causing swelling of the brain and liver.

Intravenous immunoglobulin for the treatment of Kawasaki disease in children

Good evidence that intravenous immunoglobulin treatment within the first 10 days of symptoms reduces coronary artery abnormalities (heart damage) in children with Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease is a disease that primarily affects children under five years old. The cause of Kawasaki disease is not known. Its symptoms are persistent fever, red eyes and lips, strawberry tongue, rash and swollen lymph nodes. If not detected and treated immediately, Kawasaki disease can result in heart damage and occasionally death. Intravenous immunoglobulin involves injecting antibodies purified from donated blood. The review of trials found that intravenous immunoglobulin given within the first 10 days of the disease reduces the risk of damage to the coronary arteries of the heart in children, without serious adverse effects.

Using steroids to treat Kawasaki disease

We reviewed the use of a set of drugs known as steroids in children affected by Kawasaki disease for the reduction in the chance of future heart problems as well as the effect on the duration of fever, signs of infection in the blood and the number of days spent in hospital.

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Summaries for consumers

Salicylate for treating Kawasaki disease in children and to prevent long‐term cardiac abnormalities

Kawasaki disease is an inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis) which predominantly affects young children, under the age of five years. It was first recognised in children in Japan and is the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children in developed countries. Kawasaki disease can be difficult to diagnose because it has similar symptoms to many common childhood infections. The most important complication of Kawasaki disease is caused by inflammation of the heart (coronary) arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. This may lead to immediate heart problems and damage to the coronary arteries can also have long‐term effects. Salicylate (acetyl salicylate acid, aspirin) and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) are widely used to treat Kawasaki disease, although salicylate is generally avoided in children because of concerns about serious side effects, particularly the risk of Reye's syndrome causing swelling of the brain and liver.

Intravenous immunoglobulin for the treatment of Kawasaki disease in children

Good evidence that intravenous immunoglobulin treatment within the first 10 days of symptoms reduces coronary artery abnormalities (heart damage) in children with Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease is a disease that primarily affects children under five years old. The cause of Kawasaki disease is not known. Its symptoms are persistent fever, red eyes and lips, strawberry tongue, rash and swollen lymph nodes. If not detected and treated immediately, Kawasaki disease can result in heart damage and occasionally death. Intravenous immunoglobulin involves injecting antibodies purified from donated blood. The review of trials found that intravenous immunoglobulin given within the first 10 days of the disease reduces the risk of damage to the coronary arteries of the heart in children, without serious adverse effects.

Using steroids to treat Kawasaki disease

We reviewed the use of a set of drugs known as steroids in children affected by Kawasaki disease for the reduction in the chance of future heart problems as well as the effect on the duration of fever, signs of infection in the blood and the number of days spent in hospital.

Terms to know

Arteries
A blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to tissues and organs in the body.
Blood Vessels
Tubes that carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, capillaries, and veins.
Capillaries
The smallest of the body's blood vessels. Oxygen and glucose pass through capillary walls and enter the cells. Waste products such as carbon dioxide pass back from the cells into the blood through capillaries.
Coronary Artery
A principal artery that originates in the aorta. It supplies blood to the muscular tissue of the heart.
Fever
An increase in body temperature above normal (98.6 degrees F), usually caused by disease.
Heart
The hollow, muscular organ that maintains the circulation of the blood.
Inflammation
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
Lymph Nodes
A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are located along lymphatic vessels. Also called lymph gland.
Vasculitis
Vasculitis is a condition that involves inflammation in the blood vessels. The condition occurs if your immune system attacks your blood vessels by mistake. This may happen as the result of an infection, a medicine, or another disease or condition.
Veins
Blood vessels that carry blood to the heart.

More about Kawasaki Disease

Photo of a child

Also called: Acute febrile mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, Kawasaki's disease, Kawasaki's syndrome, Kawasaki syndrome, MCLS

Other terms to know: See all 10
Arteries, Blood Vessels, Capillaries

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