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Kawasaki Disease: No Link to Travolta Death

Childhood Kawasaki Disease Unlikely Cause of Seizures in Travolta's Teenage Son Jett Travolta

Kawasaki Disease and Heart Trouble

"The most troublesome feature of Kawasaki disease is involvement of the heart," Litman says. "What worries everyone is that in the convalescent phase, about 10 days into the illness, there may be inflammation of the coronary arteries, which can result in aneurysm formation. This can cause turbulence throughout the artery and cause [narrowing] of the artery, which could cause a heart attack."

If not treated, one in five children with Kawasaki disease would get coronary aneurysms. Fortunately, treatment cuts this risk to about one in 20.

Treatment involves a high dose of immune globulin and a high-dose aspirin until the fever goes down. Once the fever goes away, the child's aspirin dose is reduced and doctors perform an echocardiogram to check for heart abnormalities.

"This generally results in a return to a happy state," Litman says. "In kids who do develop aneurysms, some may resolve, but this may still be a forerunner of adult-type coronary artery disease. They may be left with residual stenosis [narrowing of a heart artery] that can cause a future heart attack."

So if Kawasaki disease didn't cause Jett Travolta's seizures, what did? Seizures are the result of an electrical storm in a part of the brain. Some people simply develop frequent seizures for no apparent reason. Sometimes the cause is a trauma, infection, or tumor.

Media reports have suggested that Jett Travolta may have suffered from autism. The Church of Scientology, of which his parents are members, does not believe that autism is a valid diagnosis, and the Travolta family has rejected the idea that Jett had autism.

However, among children diagnosed with autism, there is a high prevalence of seizure disorder.


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