What is direct cardioversion?
Direct cardioversion is a procedure that uses a brief electrical shock to restore a normal heart rhythm in patients with certain types of abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias. The procedure is typically performed in a hospital setting under sedation or general anaesthesia.
Who is it for?
Direct cardioversion is recommended for patients with certain types of arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, who have not responded to medication or whose symptoms are severe enough to require immediate intervention. It may also be recommended for patients who are at risk of blood clots due to their arrhythmia.
What to expect on the day?
Direct cardioversion is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, although some patients may require an overnight stay in the hospital. The procedure typically takes between 30-60 minutes.
During the procedure, the cardiologist will place several electrode patches on your chest and back. You will then be put to sleep by the anaesthetist and the cardiologist will deliver a brief electrical shock to the heart through the electrode patches. The shock will stop the abnormal heart rhythm and allow the heart to reset to a normal rhythm. It may take up to three shocks to be successful. The procedure is successful in over 90% of cases.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for a short period of time to ensure that there are no complications, such as arrhythmia recurrence. You can usually go home the same day as the procedure.
Direct cardioversion is a safe and effective way to restore a normal heart rhythm in patients with certain types of arrhythmias.