Does cardioversion always work to stop atrial fibrillation?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
There are no guarantees with any treatment for atrial fibrillation. Sometimes, it takes several tries for cardioversion to work. Cardioversion is a procedure that delivers electrical shocks to convert the fast, uneven heart rate of atrial fibrillation back to a regular, "sinus" heart rhythm. If you initially have a successful cardioversion, but your abnormal heart rhythm returns after a few days, you may have to undergo the procedure again. Your doctor may also change your medications, which can help restore an irregular heartbeat to normal with the cardioversion.

In some people with atrial fibrillation, the problem goes away on its own, without treatment. For other patients, the abnormal heart rate does not respond to any medication, cardioversion, or even surgery, so they end up living with this disorder long-term. You will need to work closely with your doctor when seeking treatment for atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Unlike most electronic devices, cardioversion for atrial fibrillation, like most medical procedures, unfortunately doesn’t come with a warranty guaranteeing complete customer satisfaction. Typically, cardioversion is successful about 75% to 90% of the time. The not-so-great news is that many of these patients end up with fluttering hearts again. Long-term success for cardioversion is better if you haven’t had a-fib for very long and your heart doesn’t have significant structural damage or defects.

Continue Learning about Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation -- the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia -- causes an irregular heartbeat that can increase your risk for stroke and heart failure. Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) results from faulty signals produced by ...

the heart's electrical system, causing the upper portion of the heart to fibrillate, or contract rapidly and irregularly. AFib doesn't cause noticeable symptoms for everyone. For those who do experience symptoms, heart palpitations are common along with feeling weak, dizzy and tired. Learn more about atrial fibrillation with expert advice from Sharecare.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.