What is cardioversion?
Arrhythmia is a term used to describe an abnormal heartbeat. Your heart can beat either too rapidly (tachycardia) or without a steady pace (fibrillation). Cardioversion is a treatment that restores proper heart rhythm.
The process involves using electrical shocks to alter the rhythm of your heartbeats. It’s also possible to change your heart rhythm using certain medications. Electrical cardioversion is often the preferred approach because it yields results quickly and allows your cardiologist to immediately see how well the treatment worked.
Cardioversion does not require an overnight stay, nor does it require extensive preparation. You’ll need to avoid eating or drinking for eight hours prior to your procedure. Share the full details of any medications or supplements you’re taking.
How does cardioversion work?
Before your procedure, you may have a test called a transesophageal echocardiogram to check for signs of blood clots. Cardioversion can dislodge existing blood clots, so if they’re detected, you’ll need to take blood-thinning medications for a few weeks beforehand.
Electrical cardioversion begins with sedation to help you rest throughout the procedure. A specialized machine delivers a mild electrical shock into your chest or through your back.
The electricity helps your heartbeat return to a normal rhythm. This approach is more than 90% effective, and you’ll begin drug therapy afterward to help keep your heartbeat regular.
Chemical cardioversion can be administered through an IV or in pill form. There are several medications to choose from, and the right option depends on the type of abnormal rhythm you have and your overall health.
This approach can restore normal heart rhythm in just a few hours, but it can also take several days before the full results are apparent.
How can I keep my heartbeat regular after cardioversion?
Once your heartbeat has been corrected, you’ll want to do all you can to keep it that way. There are steps you can take to maintain proper heart rhythm. Some suggestions include:
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol or caffeinated beverages
- Getting more exercise
- Improving your diet and including more heart-healthy foods
- Reducing salt and processed foods
- Finding ways to limit stress
Not only can these tips help maintain optimal heart rhythm, they can also bring improvements in virtually all areas of health and wellness.
If you’re ready to learn more about cardioversion or you have questions, schedule a one-on-one consultation with an experienced cardiologist at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates. You can book a visit online or over the phone.