Cardioversion is a procedure that uses electrical current to restore the normal rhythm of the heart.

What is a Cardioversion?

A cardioversion is a short procedure used when your heart is beating irregularly. It uses an electrical current to restore the normal pattern of your heartbeat.

Why has my cardiologist recommended a Cardioversion?

Your heart has an electrical system that controls the speed and rhythm of your heart beats. Sometimes the electrical system can become irregular, two of the most common irregular heart rhythms are known as ‘atrial fibrillation’ and ‘atrial flutter’. In these two conditions the top chambers of your heart (called ‘atria’) can beat very fast (as they quiver/fibrillate instead of contract), stopping your heart muscle from beating normally.

This can affect how well blood is able to move through the chambers of your heart, as a result you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain

The aim of a cardioversion is to reset this heartbeat back to a normal pattern.

What are the risks associated with a Cardioversion?

A cardioversion is a safe procedure, but there is a small risk that you may experience a stroke. The risk of this is reduced by taking blood thinning medication prior to the procedure, your cardiologist will prescribe these for you. In some cases, a cardioversion may not be successful at restoring the normal rhythm of your heart.

Your individual risks will be discussed by your cardiologist before the procedure. They will depend on your age, your other medical conditions, and other factors.

What should I expect when undergoing a Cardioversion?



Avoid eating and drinking for at least six hours before the procedure.

Men are asked to shave the left-hand side of their chest prior to the procedure, or this will be done for you on arrival

Your cardiologist may perform a transoesophageal echocardiogram TOE before your cardioversion to look for evidence of a blood clot in your heart chambers.


At SouthWest Cardiovascular all of our procedures take place at St John of God in Bunbury. This procedure takes place in a specially designed cardiac procedure room.

Your cardiologist will:

  • Place sticky pads onto the front of your chest and on your back.

  • Connect you to a machine that monitors your heart rhythm.

  • An anaesthetist will give you medication to put you to sleep, you will remain asleep during this procedure so that you do not feel anything.

  • Once asleep a short low energy electrical current will be delivered to your heart through the pads on your chest to try and restore a normal rhythm.

  • This may be repeated if needed but you will not feel anything during your cardioversion as you will remain asleep.

    You should expect the procedure to take less than 10 minutes.


    You will be moved to the recovery area or the cardiology ward to rest. You may have sensitive skin following the removal of the sticky pads.

    Your cardiologist will advise if any changes to your medication are required.

    You will not be able to drive for the following 24 hours so it is advisable that you arrange to be collected by family or friends from St John of God Bunbury.

    A follow up appointment with your cardiologist will be scheduled where long term management and lifestyle advice will be discussed. You will be asked to take blood thinning medication following your cardioversion.