What is it?

A cardioversion may be performed to convert an abnormal heart rhythm back to normal rhythm.  It is often used to treat tachycardia, such as atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. This can be accomplished in two different ways:

Synchronized electrical cardioversion is a noninvasive outpatient procedure in which external paddles are used to deliver electrical impulses to the heart and shock it back into rhythm. This is different from defibrillation done in emergent situations, in which a more powerful shock is used to resuscitate a patient. Prior to electrical cardioversion, blood samples may be drawn and a mild sedative and blood thinner may be administered. Following cardioversion, medications may be adjusted to maintain normal rhythm.

Chemical cardioversion is done by administering medications that can convert an abnormal heart rhythm back to normal. Often, these are the same medications used after electrical cardioversion to maintain normal rhythm. This method may be effective in patients with recent onset of arrhythmia.

The Loyola difference

Loyola serves as a major regional and national referral center for the treatment of complex rhythm disorders, offering treatment options often unavailable elsewhere. Our skilled team of leading electrophysiologists, advanced practice nurses, technical staff, imaging experts and other professionals provide an integrated approach to the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of rhythm disturbances and their associated underlying conditions.

Learn more about our performance outcomes.

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