To manage atrial fibrillation (also known as AF or AFib), your doctor may recommend treatment that controls the heart rhythm. The main goals of rhythm control are to relieve symptoms and to improve quality of life.

Rhythm control involves using treatment that restores the irregular heartbeat of AF to the normal heart rhythm. This process of restoring and maintaining a normal heartbeat is called cardioversion. The medications used for rhythm control are called anti-arrhythmics (e.g., dronedarone, flecainide). Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of rhythm control medications with you.

Rhythm control medications are often used when people are still experiencing symptoms despite using rate control medications.

Sometimes, rhythm control is achieved by an electric shock to the heart, called electrical cardioversion.

It is important to take your medication exactly as your doctor or pharmacist recommended. Keep in mind that you may not always feel atrial fibrillation symptoms. Do not stop taking your medication without talking first to your doctor. Remember that your medications are also reducing your risk of developing long-term complications associated with atrial fibrillation.

You may experience side effects with medications that control heart rhythm. Some are mild and may go away as your body gets used to them. Some can be easily managed. Others may last longer and may be bothersome to you. If you experience any side effects or have any concerns about your treatment, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.