Cardioversion is procedure that can be used to correct an irregular heartbeat.
Irregular heartbeat can also be described as arrhythmia.
What happens during cardioversion?
Sometimes cardioversion is done using drugs to restore an irregular heartbeat. You will receive anti-arrhythmic drugs intravenously (through an IV) while your heartbeat is monitored. If a normal heartbeat is restored your consultant will prescribe the same medication for you to take regularly to control an arrhythmia.
Another option is electrical cardioversion. This method is usually performed under general anaesthetic and takes just a few minutes. A nurse or technician will apply patches called electrodes to your chest. Once you are asleep, low energy electric shocks will be applied to your heart to restore your normal heartbeat. The shocks may also be used to pace your heartbeat if it is too slow. You won’t feel anything and your heart will continue to be monitored throughout the procedure.
Going home after cardioversion
Cardioversion is usually done as a day case meaning you will be able to go home the day of your procedure. You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to take you home.
The area where the electrodes were applied to your chest may be slightly red or sore. This should ease within a few days. Where the intravenous line was attached you may experience bruising.
Your consultant may prescribe medication that thins your blood to prevent any blood clots (deep vein thrombosis).
Most people recover well from cardioversion. As with any procedure there could be complications:
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
- Abnormal heartbeat (rare)
- Minor skin burns at electrode site
Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your consultant?
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