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Botox is commonly used to reduce wrinkles, but not many know that it may actually be able to save the lives of people who have had heart bypass surgery. A new study suggests that it can prevent irregular heart rhythms, or arrhythmia, from developing.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) is a method that’s often used to fix heart blockages by taking a vein or artery from another part of the body and grafting (joining and connecting) it to the blocked artery. By doing this, blood is rerouted around the blocked artery. A patient may need to get more than one bypass graft done if multiple arteries are found to be obstructed. After CABG procedures are done, patients spend a considerable number of days in the hospital in order to be monitored for any post surgical complications, such as infection, internal bleeding, and atrial fibrillation that may occur. Patients are generally discharged within four to five days if no complications arise. However, 30% of patients develop irregular heart rhythms known as Atrial Fibrillation (AFib/AF) during their extended stay. AFib can often lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other unseen complications. Recently, studies have shown that injecting Botox into the areas of fat surrounding the heart has been seen to reduce the development of atrial fibrillation.

A patient being monitored for AFib.

Image Source: Wendy Townrow

A team of researchers led by Dr. Jonathan Steinberg at the University of Rochester conducted a study on 60 different patients in Russia that were scheduled to have bypass surgeries. After the surgeries were done, 30 randomly selected patients were injected with Botox into four major pads of fat surrounding the heart while the other 30 patients each received a saline (placebo) injection. To avoid any bias, the patients and doctors involved were not told which injections contained saline and which injections contained Botox (a double-blinded experiment). 30 days after receiving surgery, only 7% of the patients in the Botox group developed arrhythmia, while 30% of the patients in the control group developed arrhythmia. Researchers followed up with both groups one year later to find that no other patients that had originally received Botox injections had developed arrhythmia. However, the 27% of the placebo group were found to have developed arrhythmia in addition to the first 30%. It’s probable that Botox is effective in preventing irregular heart rhythms because it is able to somewhat paralyze some of the signals sent out to the heart after surgery occurs.

Since this study was conducted on a small group of patients, there still needs to be more extensive research done. However, this study shows that Botox can be used in heart bypass surgery patients in the near future, potentially saving and improving countless lives.

Feature Image Source: botox by Melies The Bunny

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