What is a Cardioversion?
Cardioversion is a medical procedure that restores a normal heart rhythm in people with certain types of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias).
Why do I need a Cardioversion?
There are two common types of arrhythmias: atrial fibrillation, and atrial flutter. In both types, the upper chambers of your heart (atria) beat very fast, or “quiver”. Less commonly, your lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) may also beat very fast or “quiver”. The aim of the cardioversion is to electrically reset the hearts abnormal rhythm.
When your heart beats too fast, it cannot pump enough blood to the rest of your body, which may make you feel dizzy, tired, or short of breath, or this could make you pass out.
What are the risks of having a Cardioversion?
A cardioversion is usually a safe procedure, and serious problems are unlikely. There is a small risk of blood clots that may travel from your heart to your body. Your medical team will be aware of this, and you will be given blood thinning medication to help prevent this from happening. Sometimes cardioversions are unsuccessful and patients need other therapies to restore their heart rhythm.
What happens during a Cardioversion?
A cardioversion is a short procedure that takes just a few minutes. During the procedure, electrodes will be put on your chest (men may need their chests shaved to help these stick) and you are then connected to a machine that monitors your heart rhythm. After this, you will be given medication to make you sleep so that you do not feel any pain from the shocks, and once asleep, one or more low-energy electric currents will be sent to your heart. You may require a Tranoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) prior to the procedure. This is to ensure that there are no blood clots in your heart. If a blood clot is seen in the heart, a cardioversion is not able to be performed as it would be associated with a risk of stroke. If there is no clot in the heart, an electrical cardioversion can be performed.
What happens after the Cardioversion?