Cardioversion to sinus rhythm should be considered for all patients in atrial fibrillation in order to improve cardiac performance and perhaps to reduce the long-term risk of thromboembolic complications. Different methods of cardioversion, whether electrical or pharmacological, exist and there is often uncertainty about performing the procedure. In particular, there is often confusion about the use of anti-arrhythmic drugs and the suitable length of anticoagulant therapy required pre- and post-cardioversion. This review discusses the current understanding of electrical and pharmacological cardioversion of atrial fibrillation, the clinical effects and the role of prophylactic anti-arrhythmic and anticoagulant therapy in this procedure.
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