Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in humans. One of its important features is the tendency to become more persistent over time, even in the absence of underlying progressive heart disease. Conversion and maintenance of sinus rhythm by pharmacological or electrical methods become increasingly difficult the longer the arrhythmia persists. Electrical, mechanical, structural, and autonomic remodeling processes have been implicated in the mechanisms of AF initiation, perpetuation, and progression. Prevention or reversal of these remodeling processes can halt the progression of the disease. Cardioversion is a powerful tool and rhythm control is a widely used strategy in the management of AF. However, important questions remain unanswered regarding not only if, but also when to perform cardioversion. There are observations from past trials and clinical situations that support attempting to restore sinus rhythm, but further prospective randomized clinical trials are needed. Optimal timing of cardioversion remains somewhat uncertain, but it appears to be some time after the first few hours and before the first few months: the earlier, the better, but not always, and maybe not immediately, and it has to be tailored to the clinical situation and its many variables. This review is intended to summarize the evidence supporting early intervention for the prevention of remodeling in patients with AF.
- Atrial fibrillation
- Early cardioversion
- Rhythm control
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine