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Cardioversion / Noninvasive Program Stimulation

What is cardioversion? Cardioversion is a procedure in which an electrical shock is delivered to the heart at a specific time during the heartbeat to change an irregular or fast heart rhythm to a normal heart rhythm. During the cardioversion, your doctor uses a machine to send electrical energy (or “shock”) to the heart muscle to restore the normal heart rhythm.

If you have an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD), the same procedure can be done using your own device to deliver the electrical energy (or “shock”).  This procedure is called “Non Invasive Program Stimulation.”

What should I expect when I arrive?

  • You will check in with the receptionist in the Heart Center on the second floor of Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph and be asked to fill out paperwork.
  • The nurse will take you to the prep area to review your health history and answer your questions.
  • In the prep area you will sign consents, change into a gown, and have two IVs started. The IVs will allow us to give you fluids and medications as needed. You will also be given an IV antibiotic to prevent infection.
  • You may also need some lab tests done before the procedure.
  • It will be necessary to remove hair on your chest with electric clippers.
  • EKG patches and adhesive pads will be placed on your chest and back.
  • An EKG will be done.

What happens during the procedure?

  • During the procedure, the nurse will continually monitor your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, breathing, and oxygen level. 
  • You will be give oxygen through a soft plastic tube in your nose.
  • Your physician will be present, and you will be given medication (sedation) that will make you sleepy. 
  • Once you are asleep, a very brief electric shock is given through the pads. Because of the medication, you won’t feel or remember the shock. 
  • After the procedure you will be monitored for at least one hour, until you are fully awake and ready to be discharged home.

Special considerations before your procedure:

  • Do not eat anything after 12 midnight the night before your procedure. Continue to take your medications as directed unless otherwise instructed by your physician. 
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
  • Bring all of your medicines with you in their original containers. This includes over-the-counter and herbal medicines.

When you go home:

  • You should not drive or operate machinery due to drowsiness from the medication.
  • You should go home and rest for the remainder of your day.
  • The skin on your chest may feel a little sore, like a mild sunburn.
  • Instructions concerning your medications, activity, and follow up care will be discussed in greater detail when you are discharged home.