Electrical Cardioversion | Heart Rhythm Treatment | MedStar Health

Treating an abnormal heartbeat with a shock to the heart

Electrical cardioversion is a method doctors use to convert certain types of arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disorders, into normal heartbeats. The procedure involves using electrical energy to shock the heart and restore a normal rhythm.

Electrical cardioversion is one of the many techniques used by the doctors in our Electrophysiology Program. We provide expert care at locations throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and we’re the region’s leading referral program for heart rhythm disorders.


Electrical cardioversion usually is scheduled in advance. You should not eat or drink anything starting at midnight the night before your procedure. The doctor will tell you whether you should take your normal medications the day of the cardioversion. If you should, take them with only a small sip of water.

A technician will place sticky patches called electrodes on your chest. These patches will be connected to a machine that lets us monitor your heartbeat. We’ll give you medication through an IV that will make you sleep during the procedure. While you’re asleep, your doctor will deliver shocks to your heart to correct its rhythm.

The procedure usually takes only a few minutes to complete. Afterward, you’ll wake up in a recovery room to rest. You’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure. You should be safe to resume driving and other normal activities the next day.


Arrhythmia (Heart Rhythm Disorders)

An arrhythmia is an abnormal or irregular heartbeat caused by a disturbance in the electrical impulses that coordinate your heart rate. This can cause your heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly.

Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a rare genetic abnormality of the heart muscle.


Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Event Monitors

An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but where an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.

Holter Monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Harbor Hospital

3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net. If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.