Private cardioversion treatment

Cardioversion is a procedure used to restore a regular heart rhythm. If you have an arrhythmia, we offer rapid access to specialists and the most suitable treatment options. 

Enquiries & Appointments

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At HCA we offer:

  • Appointments with leading cardiologists and electrophysiologists confirmed within 24 hours
  • Ranked no.1 for private cardiac care, including electrophysiology 
  • 99% of cardiac patients would recommend us to their friends and family

When would I need a cardioversion procedure?

You may be recommended cardioversion if you're experiencing symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with, certain arrhythmias including:

These conditions all involve an abnormally fast or irregular heart rate which occurs when the electrical signals that make your heart beat don't work properly. This can cause a range of symptoms including:

  • A pounding or fluttering in your chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness and blackouts
  • Chest pain
  • Extreme tiredness  
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Specialists in diagnosing and treating arrhythmias 

If you have one of these conditions or symptoms, we offer the full range of tests and treatments, including cardioversion if suitable. We'll confirm an appointment with an electrophysiologist (heart rhythm specialist) within 24 hours to discuss your options. We've performed over 3,800 private electrophysiology procedures in the past three years, a depth of experience which leads to better outcomes for our patients. 

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Leaders in private cardioversion

  • #1 in the UK for private electrophysiology: Almost 80,000 people have come to us for private electrophysiology care in the past three years – more than any other provider, ensuring better outcomes for every patient. Our unrivalled capability and quality are why 99% of patients would recommend us to friends and family. 
  • Quick access to the most effective care: If you have symptoms or a diagnosis that requires treatment through cardioversion or other means, we'll confirm an appointment within 24 hours and quickly arrange care through our private network. 
  • Leading consultants: 235+ expert cardiologists work across our hospitals, supported by specialist sub-teams to share knowledge and deliver personalised care before, during and after your treatment.  
  • High-quality facilities and technology: We invest heavily in our hospitals, outpatient centres, research and technology to provide the best available environments and options for your care.

What is a cardioversion procedure?

Cardioversion is a medical procedure that's used to convert an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) to a normal rhythm. It can be used for a range of arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular, fast rhythm and the most common type. 

There are multiple types of cardioversion: 

  • Electrical cardioversion, which uses controlled electricity to shock the heart into rhythm 
  • Chemical (or pharmacologic) cardioversion, which uses medications to alter your cardiovascular system

A cardiologist will recommend the right cardioversion treatment for you depending on your condition. 

This elective (non-emergency) procedure can help to reduce arrhythmia symptoms and prevent future complications. It can also be used in emergencies in some cases.  

What are the types of cardioversion?

Electrical cardioversion

This procedure sends fast, controlled electrical shocks to your heart. They're delivered at a specific point in the cardiac cycle – the period from one heartbeat to the next – quickly shocking your heart back into rhythm. 

Electrical cardioversion is more common than chemical cardioversion and is often the preferred option for:

  • Treating severe symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness or fainting
  • Treating certain arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia that haven’t responded well to medication 

External vs internal electrical cardioversion

There are two types of electrical cardioversion: external and internal. The right type for you will depend on your condition. 

  • External cardioversion uses electrodes (sensors) connected to a defibrillator machine to deliver fast, controlled shocks to your heart.  
  • Internal cardioversion delivers internal electric shocks through a small tube inserted in your leg and guided into your heart. 

Chemical cardioversion

Also known as pharmacologic cardioversion, chemical cardioversion is a drug-based treatment to restore your heart's rhythm. It works slower than electrical cardioversion, taking effect in minutes, hours or, in rare cases, days. It can be the preferred approach when:

  • Your arrhythmia is less severe
  • You have concerns about electrical cardioversion due to underlying health conditions or personal preference

You might take cardioversion medications at home or receive them through an IV in hospital. There are various drugs that can be used to return your heart to a normal rhythm as well as maintain it after undergoing cardioversion, including: 

  • Antiarrhythmic medications such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and sodium channel blockers
  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants) such as warfarin, to reduce your risk of blood clots
  • Digoxin, to strengthen your heart muscle’s contractions
  • Medications for underlying conditions linked to your heart health

Rest assured we’ll recommend the most suitable and effective treatment for you, ensuring the best possible outcome.  

Electrical cardioversion FAQs

The main aim of cardioversion treatment is to restore your heart rhythm to normal, reducing or eliminating arrhythmia symptoms and reducing the risk of complications such as stroke and heart failure. For most people, cardioversion is quickly effective, and serious risks are uncommon.  

With HCA UK, you’ll have quick access to this treatment, delivered by experts in exceptional private facilities. 

Risks and side effects of cardioversion are usually minimal, and your medical team will take steps to reduce them. They'll explain anything to be aware of before you go ahead with the treatment, so you know what to expect. 

Depending on your type of procedure, potential risks include: 

  • Minor burns on your skin from electrode patches, or bruised skin from an IV for cardioversion medication
  • A different or worsened irregular heart rhythm which requires further treatment 
  • Blood clots – which can form in some people with irregular heartbeats – becoming loose and moving to other parts of your body, potentially leading to further complications. You may undergo tests to check for blood clots or be given blood thinners before the procedure.

With HCA UK, you can be confident in our commitment to quality, which helps us deliver better outcomes with lower risk. 

Your cardioversion appointment is usually scheduled in advance, allowing your consultant to advise on how best to prepare for the procedure. In some cases – if your arrhythmia symptoms are severe – it may be carried out more urgently. 

Your consultant may recommend that you have an imaging test called a transoesophageal echocardiogram beforehand or during the procedure. This checks for blood clots in your heart which could pose risks during a cardioversion procedure. If one or more clots are found, your procedure may be delayed for a few weeks and you'll usually take blood thinners during that time. 

You may need to avoid drinking, eating or taking medications for a brief period just before your procedure. You'll also need to arrange travel to and from the hospital as you won't be able to drive yourself home. 

You'll usually undergo cardioversion treatment in hospital. You may have an IV inserted into your forearm or hand to deliver sedatives that help you sleep through the procedure.

If you're having electrical cardioversion, you'll have patches (electrodes) placed on your chest and possibly your back. These sensors are connected to a machine through wires, with the machine recording your heartbeat and delivering quick, low-energy shocks with appropriate timing to restore a regular heart rhythm.

If you're having chemical cardioversion, you'll receive cardioversion drugs through this IV to gradually restore a regular heart rhythm.

Both procedures usually take only a few minutes to complete, though you'll be monitored for a period afterwards. 

After the procedure, you'll spend some time in a recovery room being monitored for any complications. You can usually go home the same day after scheduled procedures, though you won't be able to drive yourself. 

You may be recommended blood-thinning medications after cardioversion to prevent clots, even if none were present before. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you experience any severe or long-lasting side effects.   

We’re here to support your recovery. Your consultant will advise you on when you can safely return to your normal activities, including work, exercise and driving. 

Cardioversion is a common treatment that quickly restores a regular heart rhythm for most people. 

In some cases, the procedure isn't successful in shocking the heart back into rhythm, or it is successful initially but arrhythmias return days, weeks or months later. If this happens, you may be recommended another cardioversion or alternative treatment options. 

If your symptoms are mild or infrequent, your consultant may recommend trying lifestyle changes before they judge that cardioversion is necessary. Their advice could include:

Eating a heart-healthy diet, rich in grains, fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat and sugar

  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol
  • Quitting smoking
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing your blood pressure
  • Managing stress or anxiety

If your consultant judges that you do need cardioversion, electrical cardioversion may not be right for you – for example, if you are elderly or have other health problems. In this case, they could recommend chemical cardioversion or other treatments. It's worth noting that cardioversion is different to defibrillation, which delivers more powerful shocks when the heart stops or quivers.

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How much does private cardioversion cost?

The cost of your private cardioversion will depend on the specifics of your treatment as recommended by your consultant. It can usually be done on a day case basis, meaning you wouldn't need to pay for an overnight stay. 

There are several ways to pay for your cardioversion treatment including through private medical insurance and self-pay. You'll receive a clear quote for your treatment, so you know what costs to expect. 

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Find a consultant specialising in electrophysiology

Our consultant electrophysiologists specialise in diagnosing, treating and managing heart rhythm disorders, including atrial fibrillation and others which can require cardioversion. Use our consultant finder to view their expertise and experience and book an appointment directly. 

Alternatively, we'll quickly connect you with the right specialist for your symptoms or diagnosis when you request an appointment. 

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Where can I access private cardioversion with HCA UK?

From cardioversion to diagnostic procedures and more complex treatments, we provide every aspect of arrhythmia care across our private network. 

How to book an appointment

Request an appointment

If you have symptoms such as palpitations or have received an arrhythmia diagnosis, we're available to discuss options including cardioversion if suitable. Request an appointment and we'll aim to confirm one with a specialist within 24 hours.  

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.