Cardioversion is the procedure where the heart rhythm is retrurned to normal (sinus) rhythm, with the heart's own pacemaker then controlling the heart. It is most commonly used in atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter though can also be used in urnet situations with ventricular tachycardia.

Some drugs may chemically cardiovert atrial fibrillation but more often electrical cardioversion is perfromed. This procedure is done under a short general anaesthetic when a controlled electric shock is given to the heart through the chest wall using a debifrillator. It usually requires only a half day admission, though patients are unable to drive for 24-hours to allow the anaesthetic to wear off fuilly.

Cardioversions are only performed when adequate doses of warfarin have been taken for at least three weeks beforehand. Warfarin is continued for at least four weeks after the cardiovesrion. Sometimes a transoesophageal echo is done just before hand when warfarin has not been taken for long enough to check for clots, though warfarin is still needed for at least four weeks afterwards. The exception to this is when the atrial fibrillation has definately been less than 24-hours duration when sometimes cardioversion can be done without warfarin or a transoesophageal echocardiogram.

Please note:

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this website is up-to-date and accurate. However, it is intended to serve as a guide only. Symptoms may vary and if you have any medical concerns you should always consult a healthcare professional.