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Cardioversion at EHMC's Arrhythmia Center


Although the actual cardioversion procedure takes seconds, preparation and recovery time usually extend the entire process to 3 or 4 hours. Be sure to plan accordingly and to bring a care partner with you to the hospital.

Before Your Procedure

  1. You will undergo Pre-Admission Testing several days to a week before the procedure. This testing will include blood tests, and a medical history assessment. You will also be asked to sign a form giving EHMC permission to perform the procedure.
  2. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure. You may be permitted to take your regular medications with a sip of water; check with your doctor, especially if you are taking blood-thinning drugs.
  3. On the day of your procedure, report to the Admitting Department on the first floor of EHMC at the scheduled time.
  4. The Admitting Clerk will direct you to the Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory on the first floor of the hospital when the team is ready to perform your procedure.

During the Procedure

  1. When you arrive at the Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory, you will be assisted to a stretcher and attached to a heart monitor and blood pressure cuff.
  2. Two large patches will be attached: one to the front of your chest, and one on the back. Energy may be delivered through these pads during the procedure.
  3. Your doctor may first try "chemical cardioversion," using drugs to try to correct your arrhythmia. If this is not successful, electrical cardioversion will be attempted.
  4. For electrical cardioversion, you will receive an intravenous general anesthetic, administered by an anesthesiologist.
  5. During electrical cardioversion, your doctor will deliver an electrical shock through the chest pads to convert the arrhythmia to a normal heart rhythm.
  6. When the procedure is over, you will recover in the laboratory observation area.

After the Procedure

  1. Once in the observation area, the staff will monitor you closely, taking your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature frequently. Your care partner should stay with you.
  2. You will be able to eat once you awaken fully from the sedation.
  3. Do not try to get out of bed alone; a staff member will help you get out of bed for the first time after your procedure.
  4. If you feel palpitations, chest pain, or any unusual sensations, tell your nurse immediately.

Going Home

  1. Most patients are able to go home the same day. Your doctor may keep you overnight for observation if he feels you need additional monitoring.
  2. Your doctors will meet with you before your discharge and discuss the results of your cardioversion. We will meet with you after the procedure to provide you with specific discharge instructions.
  3. Because the sedatives used during the procedure can make you feel tired and sleepy, you should not drive yourself or take public transportation home, or drink alcoholic beverages. Arrange for a care partner to bring you home and to stay with you for at least 24 hours.
  4. You can usually resume your normal activities the following day, or as directed by your doctor. Avoid lifting or straining, heavy housework, sports, or exercise until directed by your physician.
  5. You may experience some discomfort, redness, and itching around the areas where the chest pads were placed. If these symptoms do not resolve within a few days, call us at 201-894-3533.
  6. Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor.