What is A Cardioversion?
A cardioversion is a medical procedure used to convert an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter) back to your heart’s normal rhythm (sinus rhythm). A cardioversion helps restore a normal heartbeat through a noninvasive procedure. We make our patients comfortable using a small amount of sedation. Then, we use an external defibrillator to pass a synchronized amount of energy through two pads (or paddles) across your chest.
Most people can go home after the sedative wears off. Most patients need to take blood thinners and antiarrhythmic drugs to help maintain a normal rhythm. If the medications don’t work then Dr. Ahuja can discuss an ablation to help maintain a normal rhythm.
A cardioversion procedure requires sedation intravenously in a closely monitored hospital based setting. Two electrode pads are placed on the skin of the patient, one applied near the upper chest, the other placed on the back. A controlled electrical current is sent through the pads resulting in restoration of normal sinus rhythm.
Cardioversion vs Ablation
Although ablation is generally more effective long term than a cardioversion, physicians may recommend a cardioversion as first line treatment given the overall safety of a cardioversion. If your cardioversion doesn’t help control your atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, then ablation is a more effective option long term as an alternative procedure. Dr. Ahuja will discuss the risks and benefits of cardioversion versus ablation for your specific type of atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.
Risks of Cardioversion
Cardioversion, while regarded as a generally safe procedure, comes with some associated risks. These risks include:
- Blood clots
- Irritated skin
In addition to these more severe risks, cardioversion might not be effective. Unfortunately, it does not always fix the issue of an irregular heartbeat. In cases where cardioversion is unsuccessful, we would suggest a special medication or the installation of a pacemaker to treat the condition.
We monitor patients for about two hours after the procedure before sending them home. Anesthesia has residual effects that can last up to 24 hours. Due to this, we recommend that patients do not drive, operative heavy machinery, or make major medical or legal decisions.
Schedule a Consultation
If you’ve tried to unsuccessfully treat your abnormal or irregular heartbeat, it may be time to consider a cardioversion. Contact Premier Cardiology Consultants today to schedule your consultation. Call us at 516-437-5600 for our Lake Success office, 516-437-5600 for our Forest Hills office, or 718-441-0299 for our Richmond Hill office. We look forward to assisting you.