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Reasons for Procedure
- Atrial fibrillation —very rapid, irregular quivering in the atrium; ventricles pump irregularly
- Atrial flutter —rapid but regular contractions in the atrium, when the ventricular heart rate is not too fast
- Inability to stop the abnormal rhythm
- Abnormal rhythm is resumed after a normal rhythm was established
- Development of a more dangerous dysrhythmia
- Damage to the heart muscle
- Blood clots introduced into your circulation, leading to such complications as stroke or damage to your organs
- Burning or irritation to the skin of the chest where the paddles or electrodes are applied
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- To diagnose the condition, you will have an electrocardiogram (EKG). An EKG can record the heart's electrical activity.
- You may be given blood thinners for several weeks before the procedure.
- You may undergo a transesophageal echocardiogram . This is an ultrasound test to look for blood clots in the heart.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
- Arrange for help at home after the procedure.
- The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- Check with your doctor to see if you should take your medications normally on the morning of the procedure.
Description of the Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
Call Your Doctor
- Blisters, redness, or open sores on your chest
- Confusion or lightheadedness
- Sensation of your heart fluttering (palpitations)
- Sensation of a skipped or missed heartbeat, or an irregular pulse
- Cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain or pain in your left arm or jaw
- Pain in your abdomen, back, arms, or legs
- Blood in your urine
- Changes in vision or speech
- Difficulty walking or using your limbs
- Drooping facial muscles
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
Heart Rhythm Society http://www.hrsonline.org
Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation http://www.heartandstroke.com
Cardioversion of atrial fibrillation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 12, 2014. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC. Procedures for Primary Care Physicians. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book, Inc; 1994.
Griffin BP, Topol EJ, et al. Manual of Cardiovascular Medicine. 2nd Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/20/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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