Electrical cardioversion may not work the first time to treat atrial fibrillation. Electrical cardioversion is a common treatment for atrial fibrillation to convert the rapid, chaotic heart rate back to a normal, sinus rhythm. With electrical cardioversion, a cardiologist delivers an electrical shock to your heart through patches that are placed on your chest. While this shock stops your heart's electrical activity for a second, the heart should go back into its normal rhythm when it beats again. Electrical cardioversion is done under anesthesia and while you are an outpatient.
Sometimes after electrical cardioversion, the heart's rhythm may be normal for a few days and then go back into atrial fibrillation. Your doctor may schedule another electrical cardioversion to convert the irregular rhythm again. Using this technique along with anti-arrhythmic drugs is usually the best way to keep the rhythm from changing back to atrial fibrillation. If electrical cardioversion does not work after a few tries, your doctor may recommend radiofrequency ablation or another procedure to keep the rhythm normal.