Published on 14 February 2017
Early treatment with corticosteroids on top of standard therapy reduces the risk of serious heart problems in children under five with the rare vascular disease, Kawasaki disease.
The disease needs to be recognised early, but can be hard to spot outside specialist care because it is so rare. It is now the commonest cause of acquired heart disease in children and delayed diagnosis can have serious consequences. Blood vessels supplying the heart become inflamed, increasing the risk of heart attack and death in later life. The disease is about 20 times more common in people of Japanese origin.
This summary of the evidence found that adding corticosteroids early to standard treatment within five days of onset of symptoms reduced the risk of serious abnormalities in the heart arteries by more than two thirds.
Corticosteroids were not effective when used as rescue treatment after standard treatment had failed.
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