Q: How does electrical cardioversion work?
A: Electrical cardioversion is a process in which an electric current is used to shock the heart in order to convert its rhythm from an irregular rhythm back to its normal sinus one. It is through patches applied to patients’ chest wall that the low-voltage electric current enters the body.
When to implement electrical cardioversion depends on the severity of your AFib. If you develop persistent AFib, you may undergo electrical cardioversion at an earlier phase. If you develop other types of AFib, your doctor may suggest that you should undergo electrical cardioversion in the later phase of your treatment when other medications exert no effects.
Although electrical cardioversion does make a difference in converting the heart rate back to a regular rhythm pattern, its success rate is low in keeping the heart rate there. Therefore, multiple tries may be required to make a real difference. Besides, electrical cardioversion is only a temporary remedy, and can’t cure AFib.
What’s more, there are some types of medicines which are called rhythm control medicines, or antiarrhythmics to help electrical cardioversion maintain its effects. By taking these pills, your heart rate can be kept at a regular rhythm pattern once it is reset. In addition to pills, you can also have the medicine put into your arm through a tube which is called an IV. An IV can only be operated in the hospital.
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