Botox — known for reducing facial wrinkles — may also prevent irregular heart rhythms when injected into fat surrounding the heart after bypass surgery, suggests a study.
Botulinum toxin is produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. When a small amount of Botox is injected into a muscle, it blocks nerve signals that tell muscles to contract, said senior study author Jonathan S. Steinberg, adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Rochester.
Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
“About a third of all patients undergoing bypass surgery will develop atrial fibrillation, putting them at higher risk for cardiovascular complications,” said Steinberg, who is also director of the Arrhythmia Institute in the Valley Health System in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
“Atrial fibrillation is also associated with lengthened hospitalisation and that means increased healthcare costs,” he added.
In two Russian hospitals, researchers randomly assigned 60 patients to receive Botox or saline injections. In 30 days after surgery, those who received Botox injections during heart bypass surgery had a seven percent chance of developing AF, compared to 30 percent chance in patients who received saline.
One year after surgery, none of the patients who received Botox had AF, compared to 27 percent of the patients who received saline.
No complications from the Botox injections were reported. But complications from the bypass surgery were similar in both groups.
The study results were published in American Heart Association Journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.