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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Kawasaki syndrome


Other Names for this Disease
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome
Related Diseases
  • Secondary glomerular disease
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

I know someone who had Kawasaki syndrome when he was a child. Is there any information about the long-term consequences of this condition in surviving adults?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What causes Kawasaki syndrome?

The cause of Kawasaki syndrome 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 is not well understood.[1][2] Kawasaki syndrome is not contagious; it can't be passed from one child to another.[1]
Last updated: 2/3/2016

What is Kawasaki syndrome?

Kawasaki syndrome is a condition that involves inflammation of the blood vessels. It is typically diagnosed in young children, but older children and adults can also develop this condition. Kawasaki syndrome often begins with a fever that lasts at least 5 days. Other classic symptoms may include red eyes, lips, and mouth; rash; swollen and red hands and feet; and swollen lymph nodes.[3] Sometimes the condition affects the coronary arteries (which carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart). This can lead to serious heart problems. Kawasaki syndrome occurs most often in people of Asian and Pacific Island descent.[1] The cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown.[3][1] An infection along with genetic factors may be involved.[1] Treatment includes intravenous gamma globulin and high doses of aspirin in a hospital setting.[3][1]  
Last updated: 2/3/2016

Can Kawasaki syndrome diagnosed in childhood have later effects on adults?

Although Kawasaki syndrome is generally self-limiting, 10-15% of children may develop problems in their coronary arteries, even after being treated with aspirin and intravenous gamma globulin (purified antibodies--also known as IVIG).[3] Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium), heart valves (endocardium) and/or sac surrounding the heart (pericardium) may occur acutely (at the onset of the disease) or many years later.[4] The most common late complication is the persistence of coronary artery aneurysms (weakened areas of blood vessel that balloons out). Such aneurysms can lead to heart attack at a young age or later in life.[3]

In addition, adults may present with ischemic heart disease (ischemic means that an organ, in this case the heart muscle, has not received enough blood and oxygen) as a sequela (late effects) of unrecognized Kawasaki syndrome in childhood.[5] 

 

Last updated: 1/12/2009

What management strategies might be employed in adults who survived childhood cases of Kawasaki disease?

Long-term follow-up in patients with Kawasaki disease and coronary aneurysms is recommended.[5] Patients who have had Kawasaki disease should have an echocardiogram every 1 - 2 years to screen for heart problems.[3] Other means of monitoring blood flow to the heart include MRI, and radio-nucleide studies. Abnormalities of the coronary arteries may require ongoing medication, interventional catheterization and/or cardiac surgery.[6]
Last updated: 1/12/2009

References
Other Names for this Disease
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome
Related Diseases
  • Secondary glomerular disease
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.