Electrical cardioversion is a procedure that uses an electric
current to stop the heart momentarily. This helps the heart attain a normal
rhythm when it resumes beating.
Usually a person is given a sedative before the procedure. Then a
device called an external defibrillator—which consists of metal paddles or
pads—is placed on the person's chest. The external defibrillator sends the
electrical current to the heart. Doctors are prepared to help
maintain a person's circulation during the procedure with medicines and other
Cardioversion may be used to help the heart return to a normal
rhythm after medicines have failed to do so. The procedure also may be done
in emergency situations, such as to correct a fast heart rhythm that is causing
low blood pressure, chest pain, or heart failure.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.