Cardioversion may successfully restore regular heart rhythm in more than 95 percent of patients, but it’s not always effective as a long-term solution. More than half of patients eventually go back into atrial fibrillation. In these instances, anti-arrhythmic medications may be needed indefinitely.
Cardioversion with drugs
Medications (anti-arrhythmics) are used to stop the atria's quivering and restore normal (sinus) rhythm. The medications can effectively maintain sinus rhythm for at least one year. However, these medications can cause side effects such as nausea and fatigue, as well as some long-term risks.
A patient under light anesthesia receives an electrical shock through paddles or patches on the chest. The shock stops the heart's electrical activity for a split second. When the heart's electrical activity resumes, the rhythm may be normal.