Botox is popularly known for smoothing facial wrinkles, but it might also save people’s lives when it’s used in bypass surgery, according to research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) treats heart arteries that are blocked by making new passages for blood to flow to the heart muscle, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
CABG, which is sometimes called “cabbage” is one of the most effective and common procedures used to manage blockage of blood to the heart. The goal of the surgery is to improve the supply of oxygen and blood to the heart to reduce the risk of heart attack, relieve angina, and to improve a person’s ability for physical activity.
Treatment requires a hospital stay for several days, and 30 percent of people who undergo it suffer from irregular heart rhythms afterwards. This is the most common complication of heart surgery, also called Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF).
AF can lead to stroke, blood clots, heart failure, and additional complications that are heart-related. However, injecting Botox into the fat surrounding the heart after surgery seems to help prevent AF. When a small amount of Botox is injected into any muscle, it blocks nerve signals that tell it to contract.
For the study, researchers in two hospitals in Russia randomly assigned 60 patients to receive either Botox or saline injections. Botox was injected into the four major fat pads that are around the heart.
Thirty days after surgery, patients who got injections of Botox during heart bypass surgery had a seven percent chance of developing AF compared with 30 percent of patients who received saline. One year later, none of the patients who had Botox treatment had AF compared to 27 percent of the patients who received saline. No complications from Botox were reported.
Researchers say that bigger studies are needed to replicate the results before Botox can be used routinely to prevent AF after bypass surgery.
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