Chemical Cardioversion: Care Instructions

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The electrical system of the heart (inner view)

Your Care Instructions

Cardioversion resets your heart's rhythm to its normal pattern. It treats heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation or supraventricular tachycardia.

Chemical cardioversion uses rhythm-control medicines to reset your heart. They can also help keep your heart in a normal rhythm after it has been reset.

You may take this medicine as pills. Or you may get it in your arm through a tube called an IV.

If you have an IV, it will be done in the hospital. If you use the pills, you might start them in the hospital. Or you might start the pills at home.

Your doctor may ask you to take other medicines before your cardioversion. They can help keep blood clots from forming. And they can prevent the heart-rate problem from coming back.

Sometimes the heart rate doesn't go back to normal. Or it may reset for a while and then go back to an uneven rate. If this happens, you may need electrical cardioversion.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of these medicines. They might cause serious side effects. Your doctor will want to see you often. Be sure to go to all of your doctor visits.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you use any other medicines. This includes over-the-counter medicines. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines and natural health products you take. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have chest pain or pressure. This may occur with:
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in your back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Light-headedness or sudden weakness.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.

After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.

  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you are having any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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