Krishnam Raju death: Post Covid-19 complications still at the door

The Tollywood star's death has brought into focus the dangers of long Covid-19 and post-COVID-19 complications in people with comorbidities.

BySumit Jha

Published Sep 12, 2022 | 8:30 AMUpdatedSep 12, 2022 | 3:07 PM


The death of Tollywood “rebel star” Uppalapati Krishnam Raju on Sunday, 11 September, has brought into focus the dangers posed by long Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 complications in people who have comorbidities.

“Many who were diagnosed with Covid-19 last year are suffering from symptoms of long Covid-19. They suffer from symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, or chest pain, and some of them are even being hospitalised,” Hyderabad-based pulmonologist Dr Mallu Ranganath Rao told South First.

“Long Covid-19 is taking a greater toll on people with comorbidities, and people are losing their lives in cases like that of Krishanam Raju,” he added.

Cause of death of Krishnam Raju

Krishnam Raju was on 5 August admitted to the AIG Hospitals in Hyderabad for post-Covid-19 complications.

According to the hospital, he was diagnosed with severe pneumonia caused by multi-drug-resistant bacteria and fungal organisms, besides severe infective bronchitis.

He had heart rhythm disturbances during the hospital stay and his kidney function worsened. He had been on ventilator support since admission.

He succumbed to severe pneumonia and its complications at 3.16 am on Sunday, having suffered cardiac arrest.

He had several comorbidities: diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, chronic heart rhythm disorder, and heart dysfunction.

He also had chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease, and chronic bronchitis.

Post-Covid-19 death risk extends to a year

In India, around 98 percent of Covid-19-infected persons survived, but each individual’s chance of dying from the virus varies depending on their age, whether they have an underlying health condition, and whether they are vaccinated.

While people who are vaccinated can still get infected, these breakthrough cases are rare, and vaccines dramatically reduce severe illness and death.

Scientists have now shown an increased risk of death among Covid-19 survivors up to 12 months after the infection.

For people younger than 65 hospitalised with Covid-19, the risk of death in the 12 months after the infection was 233 percent higher than it was for people who did not have the disease, results published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine have shown.

In a Nature study, researchers examined more than 87,000 Covid-19 patients and found they had a 59 percent higher risk of death up to six months after infection compared to non-infected people.

“Treatment in the hospital is the initial episode. Now we are treating more post-Covid-19 patients than the people currently infected with the virus. It’s a time where I am observing patients who have recovered from Covid-19 but are collapsing later,” said Rao.

Post Covid-19 symptoms

There are several symptoms of post-Covid-19 complications:

  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hairfall
  • Cough
  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Palpitations

According to studies, post-Covid-19 symptoms can aggravate the diseases a person already has and can cause fatality.

Complications with post-Covid-19 symptoms

One major complication anyone faces with post-Covid-19 symptoms is decreasing effectiveness of conventional drugs due to multi-drug resistance.

Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, antimicrobial agents have been used extensively to treat various microorganism-induced infections. However, inadequate diagnosis of an infection, unregulated prescriptions leading to drug overuse along, with poorly regulated use of antibiotics in agriculture and animal-derived products resulted in antibiotic resistance amongst various microbial strains.

The same complications are occurring for post-Covid-19 diseases. Krishnam Raju had pneumonia caused by multi-drug-resistant bacteria.

The other major complication with post-Covid-19 symptoms is fungal infections. Cases of mucormycosis have been seen in several individuals in the country.

“The use of steroids was most in the community for recovery, but it had severe after-effects. The medicines were not used judiciously, which led to mucormycosis,” said Rao.

“Every day we inhale thousands of fungal spores, but our immune system simply eliminates them. However, in people with compromised immunity, the interaction between pathogens and hosts may be quite different. People with comorbidities are more likely to get fungal infections,” Dr Vijayendra Reddy, a cardiologist based out of Hyderabad, told South First.

Reddy added that post-Covid-19 complications are an emerging phenomenon.

Treatment for post-Covid-19 complications

There are currently no known treatments specifically for post-Covid-19 complications.

Reddy said that a person with comorbidities should get a checkup done regularly and visit the doctor at regular intervals to keep track of post-Covid-19 complications, if any.

“Breathing exercises, meditation, physical and mental therapy, medications, and other treatments are all helpful in countering the persistence of post-Covid-19 complications,” said Reddy.