Kawasaki Disease: Ask the Expert

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Kawasaki disease is an uncommon inflammatory condition that affects children, with the highest instance in children between the ages of six months and five years. A potentially life-threatening disease, Kawasaki disease is characterized by an inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body and usually involves the skin, mouth and lymph nodes. Andrew and Dr. Michael Portman, director of Pediatric Cardiovascular Research at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, discuss the signs and symptoms associated with Kawasaki disease along with new treatment modules and possible long-term effects. Dr. Portman details what parents and children can expect after a diagnosis, from echocardiograms and electrocardiograms to genetic factors to any long-term abnormalities to expect.

There is no specific test to diagnose this disease of unknown origin, which means it is imperative that you and your physician are knowledgeable about the symptoms. An early diagnosis allows the therapy IVIg, the gammaglobulin, to work most effectively and minimize any damage to the heart. Most children diagnosed early recover fully and do not have to worry about long-term effects. However, if the patient suffers from coronary artery disease, Dr. Portman explains what this means and how to monitor it. Given the relative recent discovery of this disease, educating the public, as well as, general pediatric doctors about it is essential. Several resources, such as the Kawasaki Disease Foundation, are suggested as places to pursue further research.

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Produced in association with Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center

Transcript

Andrew Schorr:

Hello, and welcome once again to a special edition of Patient Power. I'm Andrew Schorr. This is a follow-up program on Kawasaki disease, and as you may know, Kawasaki disease is an uncommon and potentially life-threatening condition that affects children from the very young to teenagers. The disease was discovered 40 years ago by Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki, and while it does seem to be more common in Asian children, more than 3,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every year.

Now we are going to continue our discussion following our live webcast and answer some questions that have come in. With us is our special guest, Dr. Michael Portman. He is Director of Pediatric Cardiovascular Research at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, which is again ranked as one of the top children's hospitals in the country. Dr. Portman, thanks for being with us once again.

Michael Portman:

You're welcome Andrew. It's good to be here.

Andrew Schorr:

Dr. Portman, we have lots of questions, so can we get right to it?

Michael Portman:

Sure.

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