If Afib medication management (pharmacologic cardioversion) doesn’t help your arrhythmia, your doctor may recommend electrical cardioversion.

With this minimally-invasive procedure, your doctor delivers an electrical shock to your heart. This disrupts the impulses causing your arrhythmia and “resets” your heart to a normal rhythm.

Cardioversion at Henry Ford

Our heart rhythm specialists may recommend electrical cardioversion if you need fast treatment for severe symptoms. The electrical shock delivered during cardioversion can restore a normal heart rhythm in less than a minute.

In our specialized electrophysiology or EP labs, our doctors can test the electrical activity of your heart and determine whether cardioversion is right for you.

How cardioversion works

While the actual electrical shock takes only a few seconds, you should plan for at least two hours for the cardioversion procedure and recovery time. Here’s what to expect:

  • You will be sedated for the procedure.
  • A specialist will place electrode patches on your chest and back that connect to a defibrillator, which delivers an electrical current to your heart
  • Your doctor monitors your heart rhythm throughout the procedure. It may take one, or more, shocks to restore a regular heartbeat.
  • Your doctor may recommend that you take blood-thinning medications for several weeks to prevent blood clots from forming. You also may need to take antiarrhythmic medications.
  • Some patients need to repeat the procedure in order to maintain a normal heart rhythm.

Read more about our Electrophysiology Services.

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