Atrial fibrillation (AF) or irregular heartbeat can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. A new study has suggested that botox may also prevent irregular heart rhythms when injected into fat surrounding the heart after bypass surgery.
Botox is known for reducing facial wrinkles. Botulinum toxin is produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Senior study author Jonathan S. Steinberg, adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Rochester, said, "When a small amount of Botox is injected into a muscle, it blocks nerve signals that tell muscles to contract."
Steinberg, who is also director of the Arrhythmia Institute in the Valley Health System in Ridgewood, New Jersey, said, "About a third of all patients undergoing bypass surgery will develop atrial fibrillation, putting them at higher risk for cardiovascular complications. Atrial fibrillation is also associated with lengthened hospitalization and that means increased healthcare costs."
For the study, researchers randomly assigned 60 patients to receive Botox or saline injections. 30 days after surgery, it was observed that patients who received Botox injections during heart bypass surgery had a 7% chance of developing AF, compared to 30% chance in those who received saline. One year after surgery, none of the patients who received Botox had AF, compared to 27% of those who received saline.
No complications from the Botox injections were reported. But complications from the bypass surgery were similar in both groups.
The study was published in Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.