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More children at risk of heart disease

The prevalence of Kawasaki disease, a condition affecting the hearts of young children, has significantly risen over the past decade according to research published today.

Researchers from Oxford University and Imperial College London report today in the BMJ that the incidence of Kawasaki disease has more than doubled, increasing from 4.0 per 100,000 to 8.1 per 100,000 between 1991 and 2000.

Dr Anthony Harnden, from the Department of Primary Health Care, at the University of Oxford says: "This rise has potentially very serious consequences as a fifth of children with untreated Kawasaki syndrome will develop cardiac lesions during the acute phase of their illness, increasing their chances of developing heart problems later on in life."

Dr Aziz Sheikh, an NHS R&D National Primary Care Training Fellow, from Imperial College London, at Charing Cross Hospital, adds: "Despite a heightened awareness of the disease over the past 10 years, this has not proven to be enough. More early diagnosis is needed, so the disease can be treated more effectively."

Despite being widespread, the cause of Kawasaki disease remains uncertain, but epidemiological studies support the theory of an infectious agent inducing the disease in a genetically susceptible minority. Incidence rates also vary considerably across the developed world, with reported rates in Japan exceeding those in the United States ten fold, and in the UK and Australia thirty fold.


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Contact: Tony Stephenson
at.stephenson@ic.ac.uk
44-207-594-6712
Imperial College London
13-Jun-2002


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