Cardiac electrophysiologists at NYU Langone’s Heart Rhythm Center perform cardioversion, in which medication or electricity is used to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. This procedure is typically done if lifestyle changes or medications to control heart rhythm have not helped to manage atrial fibrillation (AFib) or atrial flutter.
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There are two types of cardioversion: chemical and electrical. Both treatments aim to restore a normal heart rhythm. Ask your doctor how to prepare for cardioversion, including which medications you should and should not take on the day of the procedure.
After the procedure, which is performed at the hospital, you may feel tired. Our specialists recommend that someone else drive you home. You may be given medication to prevent new arrhythmias or blood clots from forming. This can reduce your risk of stroke.
In chemical cardioversion, medications that have the capacity to correct the heart rhythm are given by mouth or through an intravenous (IV) line. This often restores normal sinus rhythm though may not prevent the recurrence of atrial arrhythmias.
In electrical cardioversion, electricity is used to correct the heart rhythm. This is usually a scheduled procedure performed with sedation. Patches are placed on the chest and the back to perform this procedure.
The patches are connected to a machine that delivers a brief electrical shock to reset your heart rhythm. This can help your heart return to a safe, normal rhythm.
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