About a third of the patients who undergo coronary bypass surgery suffer a complication called atrial fibrillation. AFib or AF, as it's also called, is a type of irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke, blood clots, heart failure and life-threatening conditions. It also causes requires that patients remain in the hospital longer, which jacks up their healthcare costs.
But according to a study published in 2015, surgeons may be able to reduce the chance of those irregular rhythms occurring, by injecting Botox into the fat surrounding a patient's heart after bypass surgery. In two Russian hospitals, researchers found that in the 30 days following surgery, patients who received the Botox injections had a 7 percent chance of developing AF, compared to 30 percent in the control group who received a saline placebo instead.
In the year after surgery, the patients who'd received the Botox injections fared even better. None of them developed AF, compared to 27 percent of the control group. No complications were reported in the patients who got the Botox injections.
While those results are promising, the researchers did caution that they must be replicated in more and bigger studies before Botox injections become a standard part of bypass surgery [source: AHA].