What to Expect During Cardioversion?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 11, 2011
Quick Bites

  • Cardioversion is done to restore heart’s rhythm
  • It sends electric shocks to the heart through electrodes placed on the body
  • It can dislodge blood clots in the heart, increasing risk of strokes
  • Rarely, cardio aversion can lead to severe life-threatening complications

Cardioversion is a medical procedure that is done so as to restore the normal heart rhythm in those people who have types of abnormal heartbeats, also referred to as arrhythmias. It is usually done with the help of electric shocks that are sent to the heart through the electrodes placed on the chest.

It is likely for people who are due for their session of cardioversion to feel anxious about the procedure considering that electric shocks are a part of the treatment. Do not panic because there is a guide to what really happens while the procedure is on.

During the procedure, a nurse or technician will place large patches that are also called electrodes on the chest and sometimes, on the back. The electrodes are then connected to a defibrillator or cardioversion machine that with the help of wires.

The machine will then record the heart rhythm for as long as the procedure is on and deliver shocks to the heart so as to restore the normal rhythm of the heart. The machine can also help to pace the rhythms if it happens to beat slower than usual after the procedure is complete.

Before delivering the electric shocks, the nurse or technician will insert an IV or intravenous line in the arm. This line is used to transfer medications to the patient that will make him/her sleep while the procedure is one. The medications will also prevent the patient from feeling pain from the electric shocks. Additional medicines may be administered through the IV line to restore the heart’s rhythm.

After adequate sedation is provided, the procedure follows and takes only a few minutes to finish. Also, the healthcare provider will watch your heart rhythm as well as blood pressure closely when the procedure is on for any signs of complications. Should there be any complications, the team will take necessary measures to revive your health.

Even though the procedure takes only a few minutes, you might have to delay your stay in the hospital for at least a few hours because of prep time and future monitoring after the procedure.
Likely Risks

Even though it is uncommon for someone to experience the risk of complications during cardioversion, it can rarely worsen arrhythmias. And sometimes, it can cause life-threatening arrhythmias. Cardioversion is capable of dislodging blood clots in the heart and these clots can lead to stroke or other serious problems. You could request your doctor for a prescription of anti-clotting medicines before as well as after the procedure to reduce the risk.
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