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When is electrical shock indicated for atrial fibrillation?

When is electrical shock used or not used for AFIB? 

submitted by Nancy from Houston on 1/05/2013


by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Jorge Guttin, MD  

Jorge F. Guttin, MDFrom your simple question to a complex answer, it depends on many factors:

The length of existence of the A-fib, because the longer you've had it (in years) the less chance of successfully converting to normal rhythm using cardioversion (electrical shock).

Its previous adequate medical treatment and its previous response to therapy. 

The size of the left atrium.

If the patient is presently on medications or not; How long the patient has been on anticoagulation.

If TEE was done.

Whether the left atrium is free of thrombi. 

Whether cardioversion has been previously tried and whether or not it was successful. 

If there are any other cardiac problems associated with A-fib. 

And finally, if the patient is tolerating the arrhythmia.

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Updated January 2013
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