Atrial Fibrillation Cardioversion

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder. In atrial fibrillation, abnormal signals from the left atrium completely disrupt the normal rhythm, which becomes irregular and fast. Most often these abnormal signals come from the pulmonary veins. Under these conditions, the heart contracts in a disordered manner and does not pump blood efficiently.

To stop this arrhythmia, your doctor may suggest cardioversion. The procedure typically lasts about 15 minutes, uses sedation, and often requires an outpatient hospital stay. Your doctor will either monitor your anticoagulation medications prior to the procedure or may perform a transesophageal echocardiogram to check for blood clots.

ECG electrodes monitor the heart’s electrical activity. Two pads or paddles will be placed on the skin of the chest or the chest and back.  These pads or paddles will deliver an electrical shock to your heart.  This may be repeated several times until normal electrical activity resumes.  

Cardioversion is a straightforward procedure when performed by experienced healthcare providers. Ask your doctor or your cardiologist for further details.

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