Cardioversion is a procedure that restores a normal rhythm if your heart is beating erratically or too fast. Your doctor can perform it using medications or by placing electrodes on your chest to send an electrical shock to your heart. It’s most often used if you have atrial fibrillation or an atrial flutter.

What to Expect

Cardioversions are usually scheduled ahead of time and performed in the hospital. Your doctor will talk with you about how to prepare. For example, you’ll need to avoid eating or drinking after midnight before your procedure and may need to avoid certain medications. Your doctor will also talk with you about any questions or concerns you have.

Your doctor may do an echocardiogram before your cardioversion to make sure you don’t have any blood clots in your heart. This takes about 45 minutes.

The cardioversion itself only takes a few seconds, but you’ll have anesthesia to make sure you don’t feel any pain from the shocks. You’ll also be hooked up to several monitoring systems with sticky patches to make sure you’re safe during your procedure.


In most cases, you’ll stay in the hospital for an hour to recover from your cardioversion, then go home. You won’t feel any pain, but you’ll need someone to drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours. After that, you can go back to your normal activities and to work.

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