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'Dangal Actor Suhani Bhatnagar Had Rare Condition', Says Family: What We Know

Suhani was admitted to AIIMS Delhi after complications from the treatment she was undergoing, said her father.

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Suhani Bhatnagar, who played young Babita Phogat in the movie Dangal, passed away on Saturday, 16 February, at the age of 19, confirmed her family.

The young actor was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, on 7 February after medical complications from the treatment she was undergoing for a rare disorder, her father Sumit Bhatnagar was quoted as saying by PTI.

Here's what we know about Suhani's condition, and what led to her untimely death.

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What Happened to Suhani?

Speaking to the media, Suhani's father said, "She developed a red spot on her hands about two months ago. We thought it was allergy and we consulted with doctors in different hospitals in Faridabad but it couldn't be diagnosed."

He added that she was subsequently diagnosed with Dermatomyositis, a rare condition that causes muscle inflammation, and could only be treated with steroids.

However, the heavy medication weakened her immune system and she contracted another infection while she was admitted in the hospital.

"When her condition started deteriorating, we got her admitted to AIIMS. But there was no improvement and her lungs were damaged due to accumulation of excess fluid."
Sumit Bhatnagar, Suhani's father

What Is Dermatomyositis? 

Dermatomyositis refers to a rare disease that causes both muscle inflammation and skin rashes.

Although the exact cause of Dermatomyositis is unknown, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine its symptoms are adjacent to other autoimmune conditions.

Although it is most common in adults over the age of 50, it can occur at any age. Women are twice as likely as men to get it.

According to experts, among other possible causes, the disease could also be triggered by an infection, or reaction to certain medication.

Steroids and the Risk of Infections

Speaking to FIT for articles in the past, experts have talked about how steroid-based medication can weaken immunity and make a patient susceptible to other fungal and bacterial infections.

According to Dr Aparna Mahajan, Consultant, ENT, Fortis Hospital, Faridabad,

"steroids can reduce our immunity, and have the tendency to increase blood sugar levels, even in nondiabetics. They can also create the ideal environment that allows the infection to spread."
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"Many people take high-dose steroids in an early stage. This can lead to the virus replicating more rapidly. People with mild symptoms can end up developing severe viral pneumonia with the virus spreading in the lungs," Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, New Delhi said at a press conference during the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2021.

'Hospital Acquired Infections Can be Deadly'

Patients admitted in hospitals, particularly those on immunosuppressant drugs, contracting infections is fairly common.

According to a report by the International Nosocomial Infection Control Consortium, in India, the rate of hospitalised patients contracting HCAI (Healthcare-associated infections) can vary between 4.4 and 83.09 percent across different hospitals, which is considerably higher than in other first-world countries.

What makes these infections deadlier is that, according to experts, most hospital-acquired infections tend to be drug-resistant.

Speaking to FIT in the past, physician Dr Amit Varma, explains, "Hospitals are supposed to be bacteria-free — this is because strong antibiotics have already killed all the bacteria it can. But the bacteria is smart."

"The strongest of them have developed resistance to these antibiotics. And the ones that survive in a hospital setting are the 'multi-drug resistant' kind. Unfortunately, it is everywhere. The IV, catheter, the food you eat, doctors and nurses hands and air you breathe."
Dr Amit Varma

(Written with inputs from PTI.)

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