Discharge Instructions for Cardioversion

Your healthcare provider performed a procedure called cardioversion. Your healthcare provider used a controlled electric shock or a medicine to briefly stop all electrical activity in your heart. This helped restore your heart’s normal rhythm. Here are some instructions to follow while you recover.

Home care

  • Because cardioversion typically requires sedation, you won't be able to drive home. You will need a ride. Wait at least 24 hours before driving a car or operating heavy machinery after receiving sedating medicines.

  • Don’t be alarmed if the skin on your chest is irritated or feels like it is sunburned. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a soothing lotion to relieve this discomfort. These minor symptoms will go away in a few days.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about medicines to keep your heart rhythm steady.

  • If you were prescribed medicine, take it as instructed by your healthcare provider. Don’t skip doses or take double doses. Cardioversion requires blood thinners for at least 4 weeks to prevent a delayed risk of stroke when treating atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Be sure you discuss which medicine you are taking to prevent stroke. Ask when you need to have your medicine levels checked, and whether you may be able to stop taking it in the future or whether it is recommended that you take it for life. Some of these blood-thinning medicines will have the dose adjusted, and interact with other medicines or foods. Your healthcare team will give you full instructions on what to watch out for. Report bleeding or symptoms of stroke immediately to your healthcare team and seek emergency medical attention.

  • Learn to take your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your healthcare provider when you should seek emergency medical attention. He or she will tell you which pulse rate reading is dangerous. 

  • Keep in mind this procedure may need to be repeated if the abnormal heart rhythm returns. After the procedure, your healthcare provider will tell you if the treatment worked or if you will need further treatments or medication.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment, or as directed.

Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Loss of vision, speech, or strength or coordination in any body part

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you:

  • Feel faint, dizzy, or lightheaded

  • Have chest pain with increased activity

  • Have irregular heartbeat or fast pulse

  • Have bleeding issues from blood-thinning medicines