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Patients at risk of an abnormal heart rhythm after heart surgery were injected with botulinum
toxin, and researchers assessed the effects over three years.
Up to 50% of patients can have an abnormal heart rhythm following heart surgery. In atrial fibrillation, a cause
Researchers from Russia hypothesized that the injection of botulinum toxin around the heart would reset the electrical impulses and prevent atrial fibrillation following surgery. Botulinum toxin is more familiar to us as botox, the injection that is given to smooth the appearance of wrinkles. It essentially works by blocking the messages that nerves send to muscles to make them do work. By blocking the messages from nerves around the heart, the researchers set out to see if the abnormal heart rhythm could be prevented.
Results from 60 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery were collected. All patients were fitted with a medical implant that monitors and records the heart rhythm. Half of the patients were injected with botulinum toxin into fat pads surrounding the heart, and their data were compared with the other half of the patients who did not receive the injection. The data were analysed with the support of tw research programs in the USA, and published in Heart Rhythm.
The analysis of the heart rhythms
The researchers reflect that maybe the botulinum toxin creates such a long-lasting effect by actually resetting
The researchers caution, however, that this is the first study assessing the use of botulinum toxin in this way and larger clinical trials are necessary to ensure the results they obtained are solid.
Written by Nicola Cribb, VetMB DVSc Dip.ACVS
Reference: Romanov A, Pokushalov E, Ponomarev D, et al. Long-term suppression of atrial fibrillation by botulinum toxin injection into epicardia