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Asthma can kill, say doctors

Akkriti Bhatia’s postmortem reported the cause of death as asphyxiation due to an asthma attack. Delhi Police has sent the viscera report for further examination, reports Jaya Shroff Bhalla.

delhi Updated: Apr 25, 2009 00:38 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

Akkriti Bhatia’s postmortem reported the cause of death as asphyxiation due to an asthma attack. Delhi Police has sent the viscera report for further examination.

“So far we have not registered any case as the postmortem suggests a natural death. We are awaiting the viscera report,” said HGS Dhaliwal, DCP (south).

Can asthma kill? Medical experts say yes. Asthma is a serious condition, and if not managed appropriately it

can kill.

“When there is a severe asthma attack, the airway swells and becomes narrow, making breathing difficult. If left untreated it swells so much that it completely closes and one suffocates,” said Dr S Buddhiraja, consultant medicine at Max Healthcare.

“Asthma deaths happen but are very rare. Usually a normal asthmatic patient starts showing symptoms prior to the attack, which usually grows over days before it can manifest itself as a full blown attack which is as severe as probably in the girl’s (Akkriti Bhatia) case,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, professor of medicine at AIIMS.

“I am not aware of Akkriti’s medical history, but for her death all are equally at fault as her condition was improperly assessed by her parents, who sent her to school, teachers and the nurses who did not rush her to a hospital as no one assumed asthma could kill her,” said Dr Guleria.

“Akkriti was asthmatic ever since she was eight years old,” said Vani Bhatia, her mother who refused to divulge more on her health condition. According to her friends, she had not been keeping well and had respiratory congestion three days prior to her death, when her family rushed her to a nursing home.

“It seems that her symptoms were left unnoticed — as they needed to be controlled in

good time. For asthma, appropriate control of the symptoms is essential,” said Dr Buddhiraja.