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Kawasaki Disease Complications Parents Must Watch Out For

Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 03, 2022

    Kawasaki Disease Complications Parents Must Watch Out For

    Kawasaki disease is a rare condition usually affecting kids aged five and below. However, there are cases of it occurring in children up to the age of 13. With prompt and proper treatment, a child with this condition can recover with no permanent health problem. Still, serious Kawasaki disease complications can still happen. Learn more about these complications here. 

    Kawasaki Disease, An Overview

    Kawasaki Disease causes vasculitis of the small and medium-sized blood vessels that deliver blood throughout the body. When we say vasculitis, it means swelling or inflammation of the blood vessels. Note that Kawasaki disease can affect any blood vessel, including those in the heart (coronary arteries). 

    Previously, experts called Kawasaki disease mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, since the condition also causes inflammation in the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, throat, and mouth, as well as the lymph nodes. 

    The cause of Kawasaki disease is still unknown, but experts believe an infection may be a contributing factor. 

    Signs and Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease

    Before we enumerate and discuss the different Kawasaki disease complications, let’s first briefly highlight the symptoms. A child with this condition may present with:

    • An enlarged lymph node
    • Rash on the main part of the body
    • Extremely red eyes without discharge 
    • Extremely red, swollen tongue
    • Red, swollen skin of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, with peeling of the skin of fingers and toes. 
    • Dry, cracked lips and extremely swollen tongue 

    Kawasaki Disease Complications

    Now that we know about the common signs and symptoms, let’s proceed with the Kawasaki disease complications. According to reports, KD is one of the leading causes of acquired heart disease in developed countries. Below are the potential complications of this rare condition, which are mostly related to the heart. 

    1. Coronary artery aneurysm

    Vasculitis may weaken one of the arteries of the heart. As the blood passes through the weakened artery, it may bulge (balloon). This is called aneurysm

    Aneurysm can reduce the blood supply in one part of the heart, causing an infarction (heart attack) or interrupted the blood flow, resulting in heart disease

    Although rare, the weakened and ballooned artery can also rupture, causing bleeding. 

    2. Inflammation of the heart muscle

    One of the potential Kawasaki disease complications is the inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). It can also result in the inflammation of the lining of the heart (endocarditis) or the covering (pericarditis). 

    3. Heart valve problems

    Valves ensure that proper blood flow in the heart. If one of the valves does not work properly, the blood may flow backward. This causes the heart to work harder. 

    4. Heart failure

    Another of the Kawasaki disease complications is heart failure. This occurs when the heart no longer pumps blood as efficiently as before. 

    5. Kawasaki disease shock syndrome

    Finally, KD may result in a shock syndrome characterized by a “sustained decrease of the systolic blood pressure,” which is the top number. The decrease can be greater than 20% of the baseline. KDSS may also result in poor perfusion, which means the extremities do not receive adequate blood flow. 

    Note that KDSS is a potentially life-threatening complication and may even occur with multiorgan dysfunction. 

    Final Reminders

    Serious heart abnormalities may result in death or long-term complications that require treatment, such as surgery or medications. 

    The good news is that Kawasaki disease complications are rare. In fact, KD is usually treatable and most children who receive treatment within 10 days of onset will not experience long-term problems. 

    If your child exhibits the signs and symptoms of Kawasaki disease, please bring them to the doctor as soon as possible. The sooner they receive treatment, the smaller their risk of developing complications.

    Learn more about Child Health here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 03, 2022

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