Is Kawasaki Disease Life Threatening?

Kawasaki disease is a disease of blood vessels in the children. It is a rare disease that affects blood vessels, mucous membranes, and lymph nodes. It can involve skin, mouth, nose, and throat. It usually develops in children especially boys younger than 5 years. Its causes are not clear. Its symptoms include red eyes, swollen lips, hands and feet, strawberry tongue, high fever and many more. It is a self-limiting condition that ends in one to few weeks with treatment without specific complications. In rare cases, it leads to complications that involve the heart. It can be life-threatening in such cases.

Is Kawasaki Disease Life Threatening?

Kawasaki disease (KD) is an inflammatory disease of lymph nodes, arteries, veins, and capillaries. It affects the skin, linings of mouth, nose, and throat. It affects the blood vessels the most. This disease affects mostly children and teenagers. It is one of the leading causes of heart problems in children. It is not a serious disease and it can be completely cured if treated in the early stages. If it is left untreated or neglected, the disease can cause serious affections of the heart. (1)

Kawasaki disease is also called Kawasaki syndrome or mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome. It was first recognized by Tomisaku Kawasaki in the year 1967. However, the disease existed for a long time. Kawasaki disease can develop due to unknown reasons. It is not a contagious disease. Autoimmunity may attack its own healthy tissues mistakenly considering them as invaders.

Viral or bacterial infections can trigger this disease. Multiple infections by virus or bacteria eventually lead to this disease. It is also assumed that certain genes in the family may make children susceptible to Kawasaki disease.

Who Is At Risk?

Age- Kawasaki disease is a childhood illness that can develop at any age among children. It is more common in children who are in the age between 1 to 5 years.

Sex- young boys are more affected than young girls.

Race- it develops in people of Asian descent, especially Chinese or Japanese race.

Genetic Factors- it can appear in children of parents who have Kawasaki disease. This is linked to inherited genes with no confirmed evidence.

Environmental Factors- environmental chemicals or toxins can trigger this disease. It occurs in months January to March and August to October. Its peak incidence is seen from August to October. (2)

Kawasaki Disease Complications

Kawasaki disease is one of the leading factors that can cause acquired heart disease in children. Effective treatment can help in the complete recovery of the children from the disease without any significant damage to the heart. The children who have a history of Kawasaki disease should be monitored for heart ailments through ECG in every 1-2 years.

The complications that may arise in 25 % of the patients of Kawasaki disease are-

Vasculities- it is an inflammatory disease of the blood vessels especially coronary arteries (it supplies blood to the heart).

Myocarditis– it is an inflammatory condition of the heart muscle.

Aneurysm– it is a condition that causes weakening and bulging of the artery wall.

Heart Valve Disease- it is a condition that causes weakening of the heart valve.

Dysrhythmia – it is a condition that causes abnormal heart rhythm.

These complications can impair the functioning of the heart. It is caused by inflammation of the coronary arteries. It increases the risk of formation of blood clots and blockage in the artery. It may result in heart attack and internal bleeding. It can become a life-threatening condition. In a few children, coronary artery problems may develop as complications and become fatal even with proper treatment.


Kawasaki disease is a children’s disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. It affects young children younger than 5 years. It imposes heart-related complications in certain cases as the child ages. Then, it becomes a life-threatening disease.


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