Kawasaki Disease: Complications and Treatment

How is Kawasaki disease treated?

Once diagnosed, patients are treated in the hospital. The stay is usually a few days to a few weeks. The standard initial treatment is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and aspirin. When given early in the illness, IVIG can reduce the risk of coronary artery problems. Aspirin reduces fever, joint swelling, pain and the rash. It can also help prevent blood clots from forming.

How can it hurt heart health?

Without prompt treatment, Kawasaki disease can damage the coronary arteries and the heart muscle itself in as many as 1 in 4 children.

Over the first few weeks, a weakening of a coronary artery can result in enlargement of the vessel wall (aneurysm). Infants younger than 1 are at the highest risk of developing coronary artery aneurysms.

When the illness begins, the heart muscle can be inflamed, affecting the heart’s ability to squeeze. Heart rhythm and heart valve problems may occur, but they are rare. While some of this can resolve, the damage to the coronary arteries can be lifelong.

Will my child have long-term issues?

With proper treatment, most children with Kawasaki disease who don’t develop aneurysms recover completely. They don’t typically require long-term follow-up. But it may take one to two months for them to be back to normal. Rest is very important.

Children with KD with aneurysms should have long-term follow-up with a pediatric cardiologist and their care should be transitioned to an adult cardiologist when they become adults.

Most important, people with KD and documented and persistent moderate or large aneurysms require lifelong cardiology follow-up with yearly or biyearly assessments.

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