The possibility of heart and coronary artery involvement makes Kawasaki disease unpredictable, but these problems usually are not serious and disappear with time. However, on occasion aneurysm of coronary or other arteries of the body can occur, and some may require medical or surgical treatment. Very rarely, complications may include heart attacks, which can be fatal.
Kawasaki disease is typically treated in the hospital, at least while the child receives initial treatment. The stay is usually from a few days to a few weeks.
Even though the cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown, specific medications are known to be beneficial. The standard initial treatment is aspirin and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). Aspirin is used to reduce fever, rash, joint inflammation, and pain, and to help prevent formation of blood clots. IVIG decreases the risk of developing coronary artery abnormalities when given early in the illness. Other medications such as steroids or infliximab may be used in children who do not respond to IVIG. A major goal of treatment both in the hospital and at home is to make a child as comfortable as possible while the illness runs its course.
If tests reveal an aneurysm or other heart or blood vessel abnormality, repeated echocardiograms or other tests may be necessary for several years following recovery from Kawasaki disease. Almost all children return to completely normal activity after the acute phase of the illness. Even if there is no evidence of a heart abnormality when your child recovers from the acute phase of Kawasaki disease, it is important to bring your child in for a follow-up visit with your doctor to be sure that there aren't heart problems that did not show up right away.
There is no known prevention for Kawasaki disease. Approximately one child in a hundred may develop the disease a second time. Parents should know that nothing they could have done would have prevented the disease.
- Download our patient fact sheet: What is Kawasaki Disease? (PDF)