Cardioversion is a procedure in which an electrical shock is delivered to the heart to convert an irregular or fast heart rhythm (arrhythmia) to a normal heart rhythm.
Why is the Cardioversion Procedure Needed?
Your doctor may recommend that you have a cardioversion procedure to restore your heart rate and rhythm to normal so you heart can pump as it should.
Sometimes, irregular heart rhythms can cause symptoms including:
A pounding or fluttering in your chest
Shortness of breath
Dizziness or extreme fatigue
These symptoms are signs that your heart is not pumping enough blood to your body. Even if you barely notice your symptoms, irregular heart rhythms that are left untreated can lead to more serious problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.
During cardioversion, your doctor uses a cardioverter machine to send electrical energy to the heart muscle to restore the normal heart rhythm.
Cardioversion can be used to treat many types of fast or irregular heart rhythms. The most common irregular heart rhythms that require cardioversion include atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter. Life-saving cardioversion may be used to treat ventricular tachycardia.
Monitors Used During the Procedure
Defibrillator/Pacemaker/Cardioverter: Attached to one sticky patch placed on the center of your back and one on your chest. This allows the doctor and nurse to pace your heart rate if it is too slow, or deliver energy to your heart if the rate is too fast.
Electrocardiogram/EKG/ECG: Attached to several sticky electrode patches placed on your chest as well as inside your heart. Provides a picture on the monitors of the electrical impulses traveling through the heart.
Blood pressure monitor: Connected to a blood pressure cuff on your arm. Checks your blood pressure throughout the procedure.
Oximeter monitor: Attached to a small clip placed on your finger. Checks the oxygen level of your blood.
While you are asleep, the doctor will use the cardioverter machine (defibrillator) to deliver specific amounts of energy to your heart through the cardioversion patches. The shock interrupts the abnormal electrical rhythm and restores a normal heart rhythm.
Although the procedure only takes a few seconds, several attempts may be needed to restore the normal heart rhythm.