Cardioversion is a procedure to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. The technique is performed to treat a heart that is beating irregularly or abnormally fast. During this outpatient procedure, a low energy electrical shock is administered to calibrate the rhythm of the heart.
In preparation for the procedure, the patient is sedated and fitted with monitors that track pulse, blood pressure and blood flow. The electrical shock will be delivered through adhesive pads or handheld paddles connected to a defibrillator. If adhesive pads will be used, they are placed on the patient’s chest (or the chest and back).
As the shock may be uncomfortable, the patient is sedated. During the procedure, the doctor delivers a low-level shock to the heart through the adhesive pads placed on the patient’s chest. The shock interrupts the heart’s electrical signal and causes the heart to contract. After this contraction, the heart can restore a normal rhythm. If the first shock is unsuccessful, additional shocks may be needed.
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After the procedure, the patient is monitored in a recovery room for a short time while the sedation wears off. Some minor chest soreness and skin discomfort is normal after the procedure. The patient is advised not to drive for the rest of the day, and needs to be accompanied by a family member or friend to go home.