Childrens hearts at risk from low awareness of Kawasaki disease

29 September 2017        

Category: BHF Comment

Cross section of a heart

The British Heart Foundation has today marked World Heart Day by backing a campaign to raise awareness of Kawasaki disease - a heart condition that affects children across the globe, but is largely unheard of. 

Kawasaki Disease is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in the western world. Across the globe, the incidence of Kawasaki disease is doubling every ten years, although the cause remains unknown. 

Today, we're joining forces with the charity Societi to raise awareness of Kawaski disease, as spotting the signs earlier could lead to better outcomes for those affected. Research has shown that for some, early treatment can reduce the likelihood of lifetime heart damage. Despite this, the UK lags behind many other countries in terms of public awareness of the disease.

As part of the campaign, Societi has created a mnemonic - 'TEMPERS' -  to make the signs of Kawasaki disease more memorable. 

  • Temperature - persistent high fever 
  • Erythema - reddened hands and feet with swelling
  • Mouth - dry, sore mouth, cracked lips 
  • Pace - treat early to reduce potential heart damage 
  • Eyes - bloodshot, non-sticky, conjunctivitis 
  • Rash 
  • Swollen glands in the neck, often just on one side 

Improving awareness to improve outcomes

Our Chief Executive, Simon Gillespie, said: “Kawasaki Disease is the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children in the western world and can leave a legacy of permanent damage. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. With higher levels of awareness, early diagnosis and timely treatment, we can save and improve the lives of children affected by this disease. We are fully behind Societi’s mission to ensure every doctor and every parent in the UK is able to recognise the symptoms and act quickly to treat this deadly disease.”  

Rachael McCormack, Founder of Societi, said, “We created our TEMPERS mnemonic because we want to make Kawasaki disease memorable.  We want every doctor and every parent to know Kawasaki disease and be able to recognise the symptoms - it is increasingly common.  We know that children with Kawasaki disease are really irritable - which is where the idea for TEMPERS came from. One of the most critical words in this mnemonic though is PACE - we need awareness because we need doctors to expect to see Kawasaki disease and be ready to treat it.  Early treatment is key.”