Cardioversion, medicines, surgery and catheter procedures treat atrial fibrillation, states Mayo Clinic. The goal of these treatments is to prevent blood clots and to reset and control the heart rate. Treatment choices depend on how long the individual has had atrial fibrillation, how adverse the symptoms are and the underlying cause.
Cardioversion resets the heart rate and rhythm to normal, according to Mayo Clinic. Electrical cardioversion involves an electrical shock being sent through the chest to momentarily stop and reset the activity of the heart. Cardioversion with drugs involves anti-arrhythmics taken orally or intravenously to restore the normal heart rate. Anti-arrhythmic medications may be given after electrical cardioversion to prevent future episodes. Side effects include fatigue, nausea and dizziness, and the medications may be needed indefinitely.
The medication digoxin effectively controls heart rate when it is at rest, but most individuals require additional medications such as beta blockers or calcium channel blockers to regulate heart rate during activity, explains Mayo Clinic. Side effects of beta blockers and calcium channel blockers include low blood pressure and heart failure. Heart rate rhythm is restored surgically with catheter ablation, surgical maze procedure and atrioventricular node ablation. These procedures may be coupled with pacemaker implantation and additional medications afterwards.