Treating an abnormal heartbeat with a shock to the heart
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Electrical cardioversion is a method doctors use to convert certain types of arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disorders, into normal heartbeats. The procedure involves using electrical energy to shock the heart and restore a normal rhythm.
Electrical cardioversion is one of the many techniques used by the doctors in our Electrophysiology Program. We provide expert care at locations throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and we’re the region’s leading referral program for heart rhythm disorders.
What to expect from electrical cardioversion
Electrical cardioversion usually is scheduled in advance. You should not eat or drink anything starting at midnight the night before your procedure. The doctor will tell you whether you should take your normal medications the day of the cardioversion. If you should, take them with only a small sip of water.
A technician will place sticky patches called electrodes on your chest. These patches will be connected to a machine that lets us monitor your heartbeat. We’ll give you medication through an IV that will make you sleep during the procedure. While you’re asleep, your doctor will deliver shocks to your heart to correct its rhythm.
The procedure usually takes only a few minutes to complete. Afterward, you’ll wake up in a recovery room to rest. You’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure. You should be safe to resume driving and other normal activities the next day.
We are leaders in developing and using the latest procedures and technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders, and our cardiac electrophysiology laboratory is one of the most sophisticated in North America.
An arrhythmia is an abnormal or irregular heartbeat caused by a disturbance in the electrical impulses that coordinate your heart rate. This can cause your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a rare genetic abnormality of the heart muscle.
Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart and chest wall.
An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.
An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.
An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but where an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.
A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.
Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms and chemically induced stress tests.
Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.