World Heart Day Statement – Thursday 29 September 2022

On World Heart Day, we are calling on everyone to help get Kawasaki Disease known – the #1 cause of acquired heart disease in children in the western world.

Children affected by Kawasaki Disease are at risk of being overlooked, with devastating consequences – with hospital systems worldwide under sustained pressure since the pandemic. Awareness of Kawasaki Disease is urgent; children must get the rapid care they need.

Our Key Messages:

  1. Kawasaki Disease is the #1 cause of acquired heart disease in children in most continents – let’s get Kawasaki Disease KNOWN
  2. Low awareness of Kawasaki Disease means it’s often initially misdiagnosed, putting children’s hearts at risk of lifetime damage!
  3. One in five children affected develop serious lifelong heart damage

Children’s Hearts at Risk

On World Heart Day, Societi, the UK Foundation for Kawasaki Disease is highlighting the urgent need for investment in child health, including public awareness and investment to raise awareness of Kawasaki Disease – the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in the western world. Kawasaki Disease has now overtaken rheumatic fever in many parts of the world, as the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children.

Awareness of Kawasaki Disease has never been more urgent. Children affected by Kawasaki Disease in the UK may not get the urgent care they need unless doctors and parents can rapidly recognise the illness, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to place real strain on healthcare systems worldwide.

Kawasaki Disease is little known, but very serious: it is fatal in up to 3% of cases if not treated and about a quarter of all children affected will have some heart damage. Societi Foundation research shows a present rate of up to 1,000 hospital admissions in the UK alone for Kawasaki Disease each year. Once considered a rare disease, incidence is rapidly rising globally and it is now increasingly common. Low levels of awareness mean delays in diagnosis and a direct, adverse and lifelong burden on affected children – with a rapidly growing number of children living with heart disease and needing specialist, costly care for life.

Societi Foundation Trustee and internationally renowned Kawasaki Disease expert, Professor Robert Tulloh said “Kawasaki Disease presents a growing threat to children’s heart health, worldwide. Doctors need to be alert to Kawasaki Disease and treat it rapidly if it is suspected. It is important that childhood illnesses such as Kawasaki Disease are not missed at this difficult time for health services and for at a time financial strain for so many. If children, especially those under 1 year, have a persistent fever – Kawasaki Disease should be considered early as it needs urgent treatment. in order to avoid long term complications”

On World Heart Day, Societi Foundation is calling for the serious threat of Kawasaki Disease to be recognised and for commitment to public investment to protect tiny hearts. For too long, Kawasaki Disease has silently been devastating lives – and thousands of people live today with the all-too-often severe impact of Kawasaki Disease. We can change this – but global recognition and a global response is needed.