Cardioversion Explained: A medical procedure by which an abnormally fast heart rate and other cardiac arrhythmia are converted to a normal rhythm using electricity or medicines is called cardioversion. It is done at the specific moment of the cardiac cycle to restore the heart’s electrical conduction system by using a therapeutic dose of electric current.
In this procedure, electric shocks are sent to the heart through the electrodes by placing them on the chest. Medications are also used in cardioversion. The cardioversion process is done in the hospital because it is a scheduled procedure.
Why is Cardioversion Done?
Cardioversion is generally done to correct the irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) or too fast (tachycardia) and irregular. In addition, people having atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter are treated by using a cardioversion procedure. Sometimes cardioversion is done in emergencies despite being a scheduled procedure.
Electric cardioversion is done with electric shocks through electrodes by attaching the electrodes on the chest when the patient is sedated. The electric cardioversion takes less time than with the medications. If the doctor suggests cardioversion with medications, then electric cardioversion is not required.
The cardioversion procedure is an emergency procedure and is different from defibrillation. Defibrillation shock is more powerful than cardioversion which also corrects the heart rhythm. Cardioversion is generally performed when the heart stops and quivers uselessly.
Preparation for Cardioversion
Cardioversion is a scheduled procedure and is generally performed in the hospital. So doctors and patients should be totally prepared to complete this process successfully. In this process:
- Stop eating and drinking eight hours before the procedure starts.
- The doctor will tell the patient to take regular medicines and will tell them to sip enough water to swallow the pills.
- A transesophageal echocardiogram is done to check for a blood clot in the heart before cardioversion. This blood clot can be broken free by cardioversion, which can be life-threatening.
- If blood clots are found in the heart, the doctor will delay for three to four weeks, and the patient will be suggested to take blood-thinning medications during that period.
- Cardioversion can also be done during pregnancy, but the baby’s heartbeat also is monitored during this procedure.
Cardioversion Procedure A to Z
The cardioversion procedure is done in the hospital. This process should be done by maintaining a procedure. This procedure is done step by step. Those are, during the procedure:
- Medications are given to the patient through an IV to make the patient sleep, not feel the shock.
- Medications are also given through the IV to restore the heart rhythm of the patient.
- Several patches called electrodes are placed on the chest by a nurse or technician.
- Wires connect the electrodes and cardioversion machine. The machine records heart rhythm, and the machine delivers a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. It also normalizes the heart rhythm if it beats slowly after cardioversion.
- It takes only a few minutes to be completed after sedation.
After the Procedure:
- The patient can go home after completing the procedure.
- Patients should spend just an hour in the recovery room closely monitoring complications.
- The patient should take a rest after going home.
- The patient should take blood-thinning medications after the procedure has been done for several weeks to prevent further blood clots.
Risk Factor of Cardioversion
Some uncommon risks are created for cardioversion, and doctors can take some steps to reduce the risks. Some major cardioversion generated for cardioversion are:
- People having irregular heartbeat also have clots in the blood. Electric cardioversion can cause to move this clot to other parts of the body and cause life-threatening complications such as stroke or traveling the blood clots to the lungs.
- Some people with cardioversion will develop heart rhythm problems during or after the cardioversion process, although it is rare. If it happens, doctors will suggest taking medications or additional shocks to correct the problem.
- Some people may have minor burns on their skin where the electrodes are set up. However, it is also a rare case.
Result of Cardioversion
Cardioversion has a positive result and will restore a regular heartbeat very quickly. However, some additional medications are also needed to keep the heartbeat normal. After cardioversion, a doctor will suggest modifying a lifestyle to improve heart health and prevent conditions that can cause arrhythmias, such as high blood pressure. Lifestyle modifications can be done by:
- Avoiding or limiting caffeine.
- Avoiding consumption of alcohol.
- Taking a heart-healthy diet.
- Increasing physical activity.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Quitting smoking.
- Managing stress and anger.
- Using less salt which can cause high blood pressure.
Cardioversion is a type of treatment that solves heart tachycardia (heartbeat that too fast) and fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). Cardioversion is usually done by electric shock. The shock is given through electrodes attached to the chest.
It is a straightforward test without pain and much time. The test restores regular heartbeat within a short time. Medications also help to solve the problem. If the doctor recommends cardioversion with medications, they won’t receive electric shocks.