Phone: 301-552-1200
Fax: 301-552-1202

What is it?

During this procedure, you are given a small, brief electric shock by a doctor. The shock helps you heartbeat become normal again.

Why is it important?

Cardioversion is a way to restore your heart’s normal rhythm. When your heartbeat is irregular, medicine is often used to first try to correct the rhythm of your heart. If that doesn’t work, cardioversion may be the next step.

Before the procedure
  • You should have nothing to eat or drink for at least eight hours prior to the procedure.
  • Take your regularly scheduled medications the morning of the procedure unless your medical practitioner has told you otherwise. Your medications should only be taken with enough water to get the tablets down. If you are diabetic, you should discuss your insulin or other diabetes medication dosing with your medical practitioner.
  • Bring a list of all your medications with you.
  • Do not apply any lotions or ointments to your chest or back as this may interfere with the adhesiveness of the shocking pads.
During the procedure
  • Small pads (electrodes) are placed on your chest to record your heartbeat at all times. An intravenous (IV) line is placed in your arm to sedate you .
  • You will not feel any discomfort during this procedure.
  • You may be given oxygen through a soft plastic tube in your nose.
  • A very brief, low-dose electric shock is given through pads on your chest and back.
  • Your heartbeat is watched to make sure the normal rhythm has been restored
After the procedure
  • After the procedure, your nurse will frequently check your blood pressure, heart rate, and rhythm
  • You will have to remain in bed for 4 to 6 hours after the procedure depending on your doctor's orders.
  • Once you are fully awake and able to swallow water, you may assume your regular diet.
  • Your heart rhythm will be monitored and an electrocardiogram will be done.
  • You should not drive yourself home after receiving sedation/anesthesia; therefore you should arrange a ride home that day.
  • For the remainder of the day, you should not operate a car, heavy machinery, or make any important decisions.
  • You may experience some minor chest discomfort and/or skin irritation following the procedure. An ointment can be applied to the area to reduce the discomfort.