Why it's done
Cardioversion can correct a heartbeat that's too fast (tachycardia) or irregular (fibrillation). It is normally used to treat people who have atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. These conditions usually occur when the electrical signals that normally make your heart beat at a regular rate don't travel properly through the upper chambers of your heart and the heart is unable to effectively pump blood to the body. As a result, most patients experience rapid heart beating, shortness of breath, or fatigue but some may be unaware of this rhythm disturbance.
This procedure is performed when your heart is beating ineffectively. It's usually scheduled in advance but is sometimes also done in emergency situations.
Cardioversion is usually done with electric shocks, which are administered through electrodes attached to your chest, while the patient is being sedated. Electric cardioversion would take less time than cardioversion done solely with medications, and your physician can instantly see if the procedure has restored a normal heartbeat or not.
If your physician recommends cardioversion with medications to restore your heart's rhythm, you won't receive electric shocks to your heart.
To keep your heart healthy, you may need to make lifestyle changes that improve the overall health of your heart, especially to prevent or treat conditions that can cause arrhythmias, such as high blood pressure. Your doctor may suggest that you:
Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol.
Use less salt (sodium), which can help lower blood pressure.
Increase your physical activity.
Eat heart-healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight.
Try to limit or manage stress and anger.