A Cardioversion is a brief procedure where the heart is given a shock to convert the heart into a normal rhythm. This procedure lasts anywhere from 20-30 minutes. For all procedures, we ask that you arrive at the hospital 1 ½ hours prior to procedures. This procedure is usually done as out-patient procedure ( patient goes home the same day).
This procedure is done if you experience or are clinically diagnosed as having atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Most likely you are on Coumadin and the INR (international normalization ratio) has been monitored for 3-4 weeks by your cardiologist or primary care provider. It is recommended that your INR be above 2.2 for these 3-4 weeks. Once you have met the requirements, the procedure will be scheduled.
Once you come to the hospital they will perform an EKG to determine whether you are still in irregular rhythm. An IV will be started and sedative medication will be administered. There will be two patches placed on the body, one in the front and in back. An electrical shock will be sent, causing the heart cells to contract all at once. This stops all electrical conductivity in the heart for a moment. When the electrical activity starts again, the heart rate will be NSR (normal sinus rhythm). You will be monitored for a couple minutes to make sure that you remain in NSR.
You will be taken back to your room for recovery. You may have some redness where the patches were placed, which is normal. If the procedure goes as planned you will be discharged home that same day.Cardioversion is very effective. In patients that have had atrial fibrillation for less than 1 year, it converts to NSR in over 80% of patients. This procedure does not prevent atrial fibrillation from re-occurring. In this situation, you provider may ask you to take prophylactic medications to prevent atrial fibrillation re occurrence.