Cardioversion Explained

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Our cardiologists here in Macon, Warner Robins, Forsyth and more perform cardioversion regularly. Because patients who have an arrhythmia are at risk for a stroke of heart attack, it’s important to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Cardioversion can use either electric currents or chemicals to help get a patient’s heart back to a normal rhythm. And it is often done as an outpatient procedure.

 

Chemical: If an irregular heartbeat doesn’t put a patient at immediate risk, Central Georgia Heart Center cardiologists will usually use medication to make it beat regularly. This is called chemical or pharmacologic cardioversion. Medicine is distributed through an IV while doctors check on the patient’s heart. Occasionally, it can be taken as a pill.

Electrical: Drugs alone may not work to correct an irregular heartbeat. Electrical cardioversion uses electric shocks delivered through patches on a patient’s chest to regulate their heartbeat.

  • First, a patient will receive IV anesthesia.
  • Then, doctors put special patches on their chest, and sometimes back, to deliver a mild electrical shock to restore the heart’s rhythm.

Electrical Is Not the Same as Defibrillation

Unlike defibrillation, cardioversion uses much lower voltage shocks.

 

Cardioversion Risks and Complications

With both electrical and chemical cardioversion,  their are some risks like loosening of blood clots that were made by an irregular heartbeat. This can potentially lead to a stroke so most cardiologists will prescribe patients a clot prevention medication for several weeks before and after a procedure.

It’s unlikely, but there is a small possibility that cardioversion could damage the heart or lead to further arrhythmias.

After Cardioversion

Once a patient’s heart has returned to a normal rhythm, most cardiologists will use medication to prevent a relapse. After several weeks, an EKG will be performed to ensure patients are on the right track.

If you have been diagnosed with an arrhythmia or would like to consult a cardiologist at Central Georgia Heart Center, please visit our appointments page.

Central Georgia Heart Center

Central Georgia Heart Center

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