Chesapeake Cardiac Care seeks to provide the best customer service possible to our patients. An electrical cardioversion procedure is considered to be very safe and effective, but to make you more comfortable, we have compiled information regarding the procedure.

What is electrical cardioversion?

Electrical cardioversion is a procedure used to restore your heart’s rhythm to a normal, or regular pattern. To do this, a low-voltage electrical current is used to contract all four chambers of the heart cell at the same time. Once this occurs, all four chambers can then begin working in synchrony, thus restoring the rhythmic pattern of your heart.

What does electrical cardioversion treat?

This procedure is used to treat abnormal heart rates or rhythms (known as arrhythmias), such as atrial fibrillation or flutter.

What should I expect regarding the procedure?

For the electrical cardioversion procedure, you will be sedated for a short period of time in the hospital. For your comfort, you will also be given medicine to relax you and to manage any pain you may experience. We will place two large patches on your chest and back. A perfectly-timed electrical current will then be sent between the patches, causing the heart cell to contract.

How safe is electrical cardioversion?

Electrical cardioversion is very safe and effective. The main risk is stroke; however, we will assess your risk and devise a plan to minimize it before starting the procedure. To reduce your risk, we may use anticoagulation therapy, which is a preventative technique to discourage blood clots from forming, usually through the use of anticoagulant medicines.

How effective is electrical cardioversion?

There is an 80 to 90% success rate for people who have had atrial fibrillation for less than a year. It is important to remember this procedure is used to correct atrial fibrillation, but it does not prevent the condition from returning. We will therefore devise a plan for regular medical follow-ups and a treatment regimen for after the procedure.

NOTE: *CardioSmart’s website claims a 90% conversion rate, citing  Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 1 (2012)