Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar's death due to Dermatomyositis: Disease insights | Health - Hindustan Times
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Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar dies at 19 due to Dermatomyositis: Causes, symptoms, all about rare inflammatory disease

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Feb 18, 2024 11:34 AM IST

Dermatomyositis causes, symptoms, cure and all you need to know about the rare inflammatory disease behind tragic loss of Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar at 19

Suhani Bhatnagar, who portrayed the role of young Babita Phogat in Aamir Khan's wrestling film Dangal, succumbed to Dermatomyositis, a rare inflammatory disease, on Saturday and passed away in Delhi at the young age of 19. Her family revealed that the 19-year-old showed symptoms two months ago while she was diagnosed with the disease only ten days back.

Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar dies at 19 due to Dermatomyositis: Causes, symptoms, all about rare inflammatory disease (Photo by Twitter/SK_serendipity)
Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar dies at 19 due to Dermatomyositis: Causes, symptoms, all about rare inflammatory disease (Photo by Twitter/SK_serendipity)

Causes:

Suhani was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences on February 7 and died on February 16 after medical complications. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shweta Singhai, Senior Consultant - Rheumatology at Sakra World Hospital in Bengaluru, revealed, “The exact cause of dermatomyositis is unknown, but it may be due to a viral infection of the muscles, mostly due to a problem with the body's immune system (when the body develops autoantibodies to its own muscles and other body tissues), bacterial infections, occasionally vaccinations, environmental factors including UV radiation and air pollutants.”

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She added, “It can sometimes be caused by drugs like statins used to reduce cholesterol. It is also associated with underlying malignancy in about 30-40% patients and they need to be screened for it especially if there is weight loss. It is a very rare disease, occurring in 2-3 people for every 1 lac population.”

Symptoms:

The health expert explained, “Dermatomyositis is an uncommon inflammatory disease that causes muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash. The muscles of the shoulders, upper arms, hips, thighs and neck display the most weakness. So, the affected person finds it difficult to raise the arms above shoulder level and also to get up from sitting position on chair or the floor. The rash is a purplish rash, often found around the eyes, cheeks, front of the chest or on the upper back. There may also be joint pain and swelling, inflammation of the heart and lung muscle tissues, swelling and inflammation in the blood vessels that supply your skin and muscles.”

Dr Shweta Singhai elaborated, “The muscle of swallowing and respiration can also get affected if not treated and lead to difficulty in swallowing and breathing. This is an emergency and needs to be managed immediately. The patient needs to be screened for muscle enzyme like CPK,rule out autoimmune causes with tests such as ANA. The patient may also require a PET scan to rule out malignancy. While there is no cure for dermatomyositis, you can treat the symptoms with medication, physical therapy, exercise, heat therapy and rest.”

Treatment:

According to Dr Shweta Singhai, medications include:

  1. Corticosteroids
  2. immunosuppressive drugs like -
  • Methotrexate,
  • Mycophenolate mofetil,
  • Rituximab,
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin etc

Other treatments as per Dr Shweta Singhai, include:

  • Rest
  • Avoiding sun exposure
  • Using sunscreens and
  • Photoprotective clothing.

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