Cardioversion Procedure

What is a Cardioversion?

Direct Current Cardioversion (DCCV) is a medical procedure used to restore a normal heart rhythm in individuals with certain types of irregular heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. During cardioversion, a brief anaesthetic is given, followed by an electrical shock to the heart to reset its rhythm to a normal, coordinated pattern.

Before undergoing cardioversion, your Specialist will provide detailed instructions on preparation. Usually this involves fasting (not eating or drinking) for 6 hours before the procedure. You should continue your usual medications unless instructed otherwise. The procedure is typically performed in the hospital and can be done either electrically (electrical cardioversion) or with medications (chemical cardioversion).

Throughout the procedure, your vital signs will be closely monitored by medical professionals. Electrodes are placed on your chest, and a brief electrical shock is delivered to the heart through these electrodes to restore normal rhythm. The entire process usually takes less than an hour.

While cardioversion is generally safe, there are potential risks, including:

  • Skin irritation at the electrode placement sites
  • Rhythm disturbances or slow heartbeat 
  • Blood clots dislodging and causing a stroke (taking blood thinners greatly reduces this risk)
  • Recurrence of irregular heart rhythm after the procedure


Your Specialist will take precautions to minimise these risks and be prepared to manage any complications that may arise.

After cardioversion, you will be monitored for a period of time to ensure stability. You may experience some drowsiness or mild discomfort, but these effects typically resolve quickly. Most patients will be discharged home between 1 and 4 hours following cardioversion.

Your Specialist will provide guidance on lifestyle modifications and ongoing management of your heart condition to help prevent future episodes of irregular heart rhythm.