Electric cardioversion is an outpatient procedure done in the hospital. You will be given special instructions ahead of time about eating, drinking and any medications you may be taking. Most people are able to go home the same day.
Sometimes a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) will be performed first to check for blood clots in the heart. If any blood clots are found, blood thinners will be prescribed and the cardioversion will be rescheduled.
Special large patches (electrodes) will be placed on your chest and back. Wires connect the electrodes to a cardioversion machine (defibrillator). Medicine to put you to sleep will be given through an IV (intravenous) needle in your hand or arm. The defibrillator will send one or more quick, mild shocks through your heart. When the rhythm returns to normal, the procedure is finished. After being monitored in a recovery area for an hour or two, you will be able to return home.
When there is a risk of repeated or dangerous arrhythmias, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be recommended. An ICD is surgically placed under the skin of the chest. It can monitor and regulate heart rhythm on a continual basis as necessary.
In pharmacologic cardioversion, drugs can be given by mouth or IV at home or in the hospital. You will need to be close contact with your doctor during this period.
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