What is Cardioversion?

Each normal heartbeat starts in an area of the heart known as the sinus node, located in the upper right chamber of the heart (right atrium). The sinus node sends organized electrical signals through the heart resulting in a perfectly timed, rhythmic heartbeat. In people with atrial fibrillation however, this electrical signal is chaotic, causing the atria to fibrillate (or "quiver"). This typically results in a fast and irregular heartbeat. While some people have no symptoms, others may experience shortness of breath, lightheadedness and fatigue. Depending on your specific medical history and symptoms, your doctor may recommend a cardioversion to return your heart to normal sinus rhythm.

Cardioversion is a corrective procedure where an electrical shock is delivered to the heart to convert, or change, an abnormal heart rhythm back to normal sinus rhythm. Most elective or "non-emergency" cardioversions are performed to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib) or atrial flutter (AFL), non-life threatening abnormal rhythms in the top of the heart. Cardioversion is also used in emergency situations to correct an abnormal rhythm when it is accompanied by faintness, low blood pressure, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness.