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Who Needs Cardioversion?

Your doctor may recommend cardioversion if you have an arrhythmia that's causing troublesome symptoms. These symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue (tiredness), and chest discomfort.

Atrial fibrillation (A-tre-al fih-brih-LA-shun), or AF, is a common type of arrhythmia treated with cardioversion. In AF, the heart's electrical signals travel through the heart's upper chambers (the atria) in a fast and disorganized way. This causes the atria to quiver instead of contract.

Atrial flutter, which is similar to AF, also might be treated with cardioversion. In atrial flutter, the heart's electrical signals travel through the atria in a fast, but regular rhythm.

Cardioversion sometimes is used to treat rapid heart rhythms in the lower heart chambers (the ventricles).

Cardioversion usually is a scheduled procedure. However, you may need an emergency cardioversion if your symptoms are severe.

For some people who have other heart conditions in addition to arrhythmias, cardioversion might not be the best treatment option. Talk with your doctor about whether cardioversion is an option for you.

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June 1, 2010