INDICATIONS for CARDIOVERSION
Electrical cardioversion is performed as an emergency procedure when the heart is beating so fast and irregularly that it pumps inadequate amounts of blood to the body.
Cardioversion can be performed as a scheduled procedure to treat arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation that developed recently or that do not respond to medication. Prior to scheduled cardioversion, it is sometimes necessary to perform a transesophageal echocardiogram to be certain there are no existing blood clots in the heart.
Complications are uncommon but include:
- Cardioversion may dislodge a preexisting clot and cause a stroke. The risk of this occurring can be reduced by using anticoagulants.
- The procedure may not work, requiring additional attempts at cardioversion after antiarrhythmic medications are started.
- Cardioversion may cause the development of more serious arrhythmias.
- The sedatives given during the procedure can cause reactions.
- The procedure leaves a small skin burn where the paddles are placed.
Abraham Salacata, MD, FACC