Electrical Cardioversion: Before Your Procedure
What is electrical cardioversion?
Electrical cardioversion is a treatment for a heartbeat that isn't normal, such as atrial fibrillation. It uses a brief electric shock to reset your heart's rhythm.
Before the treatment, you will get medicine to make you sleepy. You should not feel any pain.
Your doctor will put patches on your chest. Or you might get them on both your chest and back. They send a brief electric current to your heart. In most cases, this restores the heart's normal rhythm right away.
Cardioversion itself takes about 5 minutes. But the whole procedure may take a few hours. That includes time to recover.
Abnormal heart rhythms sometimes come back after the treatment. You may choose to also take medicines. These may help your heart keep its normal rhythm.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
Preparing for the procedure
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of the procedure?
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery centre
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
- You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter S549 in the search box to learn more about "Electrical Cardioversion: Before Your Procedure".
Current as of: January 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine