Cardioversion passes an electric shock to the chest through electrodes or paddles.
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Reasons for Procedure
This procedure is done to correct a dangerous heart rhythm. The heart should beat in a regular rhythm. Abnormal rhythms can make it hard for the heart to pump blood and oxygen through the body.
Non-urgent cardioversion may be used to treat:
Some abnormal heart rhythms can lead to death if not treated right away. Urgent cardioversion may be used to treat:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will review some problems that could happen, such as:
- The procedure does not work
- A more dangerous heart rhythm develops
- Damage to the heart muscle
- Blood clots
- A stroke
What to Expect
Problems to Look Out For
Call your doctor if you have:
- Blisters, redness, or open sores on your chest
- Confusion or lightheadedness
- A feeling that your heart is:
- Fluttering (palpitations)
- Skipping or missing heartbeats, or you have an uneven pulse
- Cough or problems breathing
- Lasting nausea or vomiting
- Pain in the:
- Left arm or jaw
- Belly, back, arms, or legs
- Blood in your urine (pee)
- Problems with seeing, talking, walking, or movement
- Drooping face muscles
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Prior to Procedure
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
- Taking blood thinners for several weeks before the procedure
- Tests that need to be done before the procedure, such as a transesophageal echocardiography
- Whether you need a ride to or from the procedure
- Avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before the procedure
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
For urgent cardioversion, there is no time to prepare for the procedure.
- Al-Khatib SM, Stevenson WG, et al. 2017 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for management of patients with ventricular arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death: Executive summary: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. 2018;138(13):e210-e271.
- Cardioversion of atrial fibrillation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/cardioversion-of-atrial-fibrillation.
- Direct-current (DC) cardioversion-defibrillation. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/arrhythmias-and-conduction-disorders/direct-current-dc-cardioversion-defibrillation.
- Overview of arrhythmias. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/arrhythmias-and-conduction-disorders/overview-of-arrhythmias.
- Mark D. Arredondo, MD
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