Botox does more than just conceal wrinkles. According to a new study Botox could prevent atrial fibrillation or AFib.
Most commonly known as the miracle worker that helps prevent the formation of wrinkles, Botox is the branded name of the botulinum toxin, a produce of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The same principle that allows Botox to be so effective in leveling wrinkles can also be applied to prevent irregular heartbeat. Injected in muscles, the toxin blocks signals from the nerves that inform muscle contraction.
Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation or AFib is a major risk factor for patients suffering from heart disease. Presenting AFib may lead to stroke, blood clots and heart failure, especially after a patient undergoes cardiac surgery.
The new study, published in the Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology journal of the American Heart Association found that Botox could prevent atrial fibrillation or AFib. The research was conducted on 60 patients involved in a randomized trial. All had presented irregular heartbeat at least twice before cardiac surgery was performed. At the same time, all presented high risk of such episodes occurring once more.
None of the patients were on any medication to prevent atrial fibrillation. Some patients received a saline injection, while the rest received a Botox injection. The trial was randomized. As such, neither the patients, nor the researchers knew which patient received which injection.
Senior author on the study, Jonathan S. Steinberg, M.D. and Professor of Medicine with the University of Rochester, stated:
“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 always associated with lengthened hospitalization and that means increased healthcare costs”.
After the surgery, all patients involved in the study were monitored periodically. In the first 30 days, the researchers observed that patients who had received the Botox injection presented a 7 percent risk of developing AFib. Patients who received the saline injection presented a 30 percent risk.
With the one year follow-up, the research team observed that of the patients who had received the Botox injection to prevent heart irregularity after the bypass surgery, none had developed AFib. 27 percent of the second group of patients developed AFib.
This trial puts forth the idea that Botox could prevent atrial fibrillation or AFib. However, larger trials are needed to confirm the efficiency of Botox injections in preventing irregularities in a patient’s heartbeat.
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