Many people seem to have a love-hate relationship with Botox. While many believe in aging gracefully without subjecting to nonsurgical cosmetic procedures like Botox, this dermatology staple may soon find its way into the surgery room.

A new study revealed Botox can help in maintaining a regular heartbeat following a heart bypass surgery, therefore lowering post-bypass complications like heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. It seems that Botox not only has age-defying effects but also life-saving effects.

Data shows that anywhere between 10 to 50 percent of heart bypass patients can experience irregular heart rhythms post-surgery. This irregularity in the heart rhythm can shoot up during recovery at the intensive care unit (ICU) and become a road block towards full recovery and even lower survival rates post-surgery.

Dr. Jonathan Steinberg is the Arrhythmia Institute director at Valley Health System and an assistant professor at the University of Rochester. He led the study that looked into the effects of Botox shots in heart rhythms post-surgery. The research's animal tests proved successful wherein Botox shots targeted the nerves feeding into the heart. This altered the electrical signals that regulate the heart's beating patterns.

"About a third of all patients undergoing bypass surgery will develop atrial fibrillation, putting them at higher risk for cardiovascular complications," said Steinberg.

Led by Steinberg, the team worked with doctors based in Russia to test the Botox shots in 60 patients who suffer from irregular heart rhythms awaiting bypass surgery. Thirty patients received Botox shots straight into the fat around the heart. The other half received saline shots. Around 7 percent of the Botox group experienced irregular heart rhythms within 30 days that followed the bypass surgery. In the saline group, 30 percent experienced arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats). Steinberg looked into the two groups a year after their operations. No patient in the Botox group experienced arrhythmias compared to the 27 percent in the saline group.

The research offers much encouragement to the medical community and patients. Current treatment for post-bypass arrhythmia include medications and beta blockers that are not much effective. Botox shots taken during pre-surgery somehow 'paralyzes' a number of excitatory signals delivered to the heart that follows the post-surgery trauma. By keeping this activity in check, the heart rhythm is able to stabilize quicker.

Botox may soon become a staple during pre-surgeries of the heart. However, the initial study only involved a small group of patients. More tests involving large numbers need to be done.

The researchers published their findings in the Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology journal.

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