Cardioversion Treatment Available in Baltimore


Cardioversion is a procedure in which an abnormal heartbeat, called atrial fibrillation, is returned to a normal heartbeat with low-energy electrical shocks. The patient receives the electrical shocks through pads placed on the chest.

Cardiologists at The Heart Center at Mercy in Baltimore offer cardioversion as a treatment for patients experiencing heart arrhythmias

What is Cardioversion?

Cardioversion is a procedure used to restore abnormal heartbeats to a regular rhythm. It can be done using either a mild electrical shock, or through the use of specific drugs.

NEXT: Types of Cardioversion procedures: ›
Types of Cardioversion procedures:
  • Electric cardioversion: a special device (defibrillator) sends a brief, mild shock through the heart to interrupt the abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmia) and return the heart to its regular rhythm.
  • Pharmacologic cardioversion: antiarrhythmic drugs are given to restore normal heartbeats.
NEXT: How is Cardioversion performed? ›
How is Cardioversion performed?

Electric cardioversion is an outpatient procedure done in the hospital. You will be given special instructions ahead of time about eating, drinking and any medications you may be taking. Most people are able to go home the same day.

Sometimes a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) will be performed first to check for blood clots in the heart. If any blood clots are found, blood thinners will be prescribed and the cardioversion will be rescheduled.

Special large patches (electrodes) will be placed on your chest and back. Wires connect the electrodes to a cardioversion machine (defibrillator). Medicine to put you to sleep will be given through an IV (intravenous) needle in your hand or arm. The defibrillator will send one or more quick, mild shocks through your heart. When the rhythm returns to normal, the procedure is finished. After being monitored in a recovery area for an hour or two, you will be able to return home.

When there is a risk of repeated or dangerous arrhythmias, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be recommended. An ICD is surgically placed under the skin of the chest. It can monitor and regulate heart rhythm on a continual basis as necessary.

In pharmacologic cardioversion, drugs can be given by mouth or IV at home or in the hospital. You will need to be close contact with your doctor during this period.

NEXT: When is Cardioversion the best option? ›
When is Cardioversion the best option?

Your heart is an efficient organ that beats in a regular rhythm about 100,000 times a day according to the American Heart Association! But sometimes, especially as people get older, irregular heartbeats can develop. This can be a single event or happen again over time. Cardioversion uses non-invasive or minor surgical procedures to restore and maintain normal heart rhythms.

NEXT: What risks are associated with Cardioversion? ›
What risks are associated with Cardioversion?

Complications are rare, but may include minor skin burns, new arrhythmias or blood clots.

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