Electrical Cardioversion

This procedure uses a synchronized (perfectly timed) electrical shock delivered through the chest wall to the heart through special electrodes or paddles that are applied to the skin of the chest and back. The goal of cardioversion is to interrupt the abnormal electrical path in the heart and to reset the heart's rhythm. The heart is not damaged and most people are able to go home an hour or two after their cardioversion.

If the AFib is resolved, medication may be prescribed to help prevent it from recurring. For some patients, this treatment is unsuccessful or short-lasting. The success of electrical cardioversion often depends on the duration of atrial fibrillation and if there is an underlying cause of heart disease. At minimum, three full weeks of anticoagulation will be required following the cardioversion. Cardioversion is not appropriate for every patient with atrial fibrillation.