Cardioversion is a medical therapy used to restore a normal heartbeat in arrhythmic patients. Cardioversion is the use of synchronized electrical shocks to treat an irregular heartbeat, most often atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Cardioversion involves administering electric shocks to the heart via electrodes put on the patient’s chest. Cardioversion can also be performed with medicine, which is known as chemical cardioversion or pharmacologic cardioversion. Cardioversion is often a hospital-based technique that is better suited for individuals with particular types of arrhythmias that benefit from a shock delivered at precise periods throughout the heart’s electrical cycle.
Defibrillation is used to treat individuals who are in cardiac arrest and have no pulse, as well as people who have specific forms of arrhythmias. A defibrillation shock provided by an AED is more powerful than a cardioversion shock, restoring jumbled signals and allowing the heart to beat properly.
Electrical impulses in a typical, healthy heart cause a coordinated series of muscular contractions that allow the heart to pump blood. The electrical impulses that govern the heart are confused when the heart is in ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. As a result, the heart muscle does not contract in an ordered manner.
A “shock” of electrical current from a defibrillator depolarizes the majority of the heart, bringing the arrhythmia to an end. When a patient receives a “shock” from an AED, the energy from the AED goes into the patient’s heart and between the electrode pads. A defibrillator transmits a quick burst of electricity into the patient’s heart, causing the cardiac cells to depolarize and cease the erratic and inefficient rhythm, also known as defibrillating.
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