Cardioversion treatment is used to get the heart back into a normal rhythm right away. There are two options for treatment:
- Electric shocks to your heart
- Drugs given through a vein
These treatments may be done as an emergency, or planned ahead of time.
Daily medicines taken by mouth are used to:
- Slow the irregular heartbeat. These drugs may include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digoxin.
- Prevent atrial fibrillation from coming back. These drugs work well in many people, but they can have serious side effects. Atrial fibrillation returns in many people, even while they are taking these medicines.
Blood thinners are medicines that are used to reduce the risk of developing a blood clot that travels in the body (such as a stroke). They include heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), apixaban (Eliquis), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), and dabigatran (Pradaxa).
These drugs increase the chance of bleeding, so not everyone can use them. Antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin or clopidogrel may also be prescribed. Your doctor will consider your age and other medical problems when deciding which drugs are best.
A procedure called radiofrequency ablation can be used to scar areas in your heart where the heart rhythm problems are triggered. This can prevent the abnormal electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation from moving through the heart. You may need a heart pacemaker after this procedure.
All people with atrial fibrillation will need to learn how to manage this condition at home.