Electrical Cardioversion

Electrical Cardioversion is a procedure Saint Mary’s cardiologists sometimes use to return an abnormal or too-fast heartbeat (atrial fibrillation or AFib) to a normal rhythm. Such abnormal heart rhythms are called arrhythmias. Arrhythmias can cause problems such as fainting, stroke, heart attack, and even sudden cardiac death.

During this treatment, a high-energy shock is sent to the heart back to a normal rhythm. It differs from chemical cardioversion, in which medication is given to try to restore a normal rhythm.

If you undergo electrical cardioversion, you will be sedated. The cardiologist will then deliver an electric shock with paddles — a process that can be repeated if needed. The procedure is usually short, and most people do not recall the procedure after waking up.

Electrical cardioversion does not always return the heart rhythm to normal. If it doesn’t for you, you may need a pacemaker or AICD.