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If you have been diagnosed with an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), such as atrial fibrillation, your Dignity Health Central California doctor may recommend cardioversion therapy. The treatment uses mild electrical shocks to jolt your heart back to its regular rhythm.
Cardioversion is similar to defibrillation — an emergency treatment for cardiac arrest and certain life-threatening arrhythmias that uses higher intensity electrical impulses.
To prevent complications from untreated abnormal heart rhythms, see a doctor if you suspect symptoms of an arrhythmia in Central California. Use our Find a Doctor tool to choose a knowledgeable Dignity Health Central California cardiologist who can explain the benefits of cardioversion.
Special heart cells called “pacemaker” cells set the rate at which the heart contracts by sending out electrical impulses. If these impulses are disrupted, your heart loses its regular rhythm and develops an arrhythmia. Cardioversion resets your heart to its normal rhythm by targeting the pacemaker cells with artificial electrical impulses.
Some people need just one cardioversion session to correct their arrhythmia, while others may need to undergo the procedure several times. In certain cases of chronic arrhythmia, cardioversion may be the first step in an ongoing course of treatment that also includes medications and other therapies.
Cardioversion is a relatively low-risk procedure. However, you will need to undergo a few tests, including transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), to screen for potential complications such as blood clots.
Cardioversion is usually performed while you are under general anesthesia. Before the procedure, a nurse or technician applies sticky pads (electrodes) to your chest and back, and starts an intravenous line (IV) for anesthesia. Once you are asleep, several low-energy bursts of electricity are sent to your heart through the electrodes to restore a regular heart rhythm. When the procedure is over, you are taken to the recovery area to wait for the effects of anesthesia to wear off.
You may experience soreness in the chest after cardioversion. Most people are able to go home a few hours after the procedure. However, if you experience a complication, your Dignity Health Central California doctor will likely want to keep you in the hospital overnight for observation. You may also be prescribed medication to lower your risks of postprocedure complications or as part of your overall treatment plan.
Our heart experts provide unparalleled care for many cardiovascular problems. Learn more about heart care at our Central California hospitals:
Dignity Health Central California offers advanced cardiac treatments, including cardioversion, in Bakersfield, Merced and Stockton, CA.