What is it Cardioversion?
Each normal heartbeat is triggered by an electrical impulse in an area of the heart known as the sinus node. Usually, the sinus node sends an organised electrical signal through the heart resulting in perfectly timed, rhythmic heartbeats. Sometimes, chaotic electrical signals can make the chambers (atria) of the heart flutter (fibrillate), this is known medically as atrial fibrillation or AF and results in an irregular, and sometimes, fast heartbeat. If AF has been unresponsive to drug therapy, electrical cardioversion is often carried out.
Cardioversion is the use of a brief electric shock to restore normal heart rhythm. It is particularly used to treat atrial fibrillation (AF) and atrial flutter. It is occasionally a definitive treatment for AF but more commonly used as a trial of normal rhythm to determine if this improves symptoms. Your symptoms will be assessed in clinic after the cardioversion. This is a simple nurse-led procedure, using a machine called a ‘defibrillator’, which is carried out under sedation, in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) as a day case.