Cardioversion is often used to treat people who have atrial fibrillation. It is usually a scheduled procedure that is performed on an outpatient basis. Occasionally, cardioversion is accomplished by using only medications such as anti-arrhythmic drugs to restore the heart's rhythm.
The goal of cardioversion is to disrupt the abnormal electrical circuit(s) in the heart and to restore a normal heart beat. The synchronized electrical impulse causes all the heart cells to contract simultaneously, thereby interrupting and terminating the abnormal electrical rhythm without damaging the heart.
At Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, we draw from our vast experience of managing people with abnormal heart rhythms disorders and formulate an individual plan for each patient. Our physicians perform cardioversions in the electrophysiology and cardiac diagnostic labs with specialized equipment for treating arrhythmias.
Is Cardioversion Different from an AED?
Cardioversion is different from an automatic external defibrillator (AED) that is used in emergencies outside of the hospital where a person suddenly collapses. During cardioversion, pads are placed on the chest and connected to an external defibrillator by a cable. The defibrillator allows the medical team to continuously monitor the heart rhythm and to deliver the electrical impulse. This procedure is often successful at restoring a normal heart rhythm, although heart rhythm disorders can reoccur.