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How do you treat atrial fibrillation?

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Quick Answer

Treatment of atrial fibrillation can be either by electrical cardioversion or cardioversion by drugs, according to Mayo Clinic. The goal for treating atrial fibrillation is to reset the heart rate and rhythm, but the ultimate treatment depends on a few factors and the health of the patient.

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Full Answer

To treat atrial fibrillation, doctors try to reset the heart to its regular rhythm by using a procedure called cardioversion. This is dependent upon the reasons why the patient has atrial fibrillation and how long he has had it. There are two ways a doctor can conduct cardioversion, says Mayo Clinic.

Electrical cardioversion is a brief procedure in which an electrical shock is delivered to the heart by way of paddles or patches placed on the chest. The shock momentarily stops the heart's electrical activity. When the heart begins again, it should resume normal rhythm, says Mayo Clinic.

Cardioversion can also be done with medication. Depending on the condition of the heart, oral or intravenous drugs can restore a heart to its normal rhythm. Before cardioversion is done, doctors may prescribe a blood-thinning medication such as Coumadin for a few weeks to reduce the risk or blood clots or stroke, says Mayo Clinic.

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