If you have an
abnormal heart rhythm such as
atrial fibrillation your doctor may want you to have a
treatment called cardioversion.
This treatment aims to get your abnormal heart rhythm back to
What happens during a cardioversion?
You will be given a short-acting general
anaesthetic or heavy sedation so you will be asleep throughout the
A doctor or nurse will put electrodes, stuck
to large sticky pads, on your chest. The electrodes are connected
to a defibrillator machine and will give you one or more controlled
electric shocks to your chest wall. The whole procedure usually
lasts about 10 minutes.
The defibrillator monitors your heart rhythm
throughout the procedure so the medical staff can see straight away
if the cardioversion was successful.
How long will I be in hospital for?
You will usually only need to go to hospital
for part of the day, although some people need to stay
Are there complications or side effects I should be aware
Complications are not common and if you
experience any side effects after the cardioversion, they will
usually be temporary.
After your cardioversion, you may get
headaches and dizziness from a drop in your blood pressure. You may
also feel a small amount of discomfort in your chest where the
shock was given. Feeling sick is also a common side effect of an
How successful are cardioversions?
Cardioversion doesn’t always restore normal
heart rhythm. Sometimes it’s successful to start with, but then
your abnormal heart rhythm comes back several days, weeks or even
months later. If this happens, your doctor may want to repeat the
cardioversion or they may consider another treatment for you.
If you have any questions, talk to your doctor or call our
Heart Helpline on 0300 330
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