Electrical cardioversion is a treatment for an abnormal heartbeat, such as atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, or ventricular tachycardia (VT). Your doctor used a brief electrical shock to reset your heart's rhythm.
After the procedure, you may have redness, like a sunburn, where the patches were. The medicines you got to make you sleepy may make you feel drowsy for the rest of the day. You may feel soreness or discomfort in your chest wall for a few days.
Your doctor may have you take medicines to help the heart beat normally and to prevent blood clots.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- If the doctor gave you a sedative:
- For 24 hours, don't do anything that requires attention to detail. It takes time for the medicine's effects to completely wear off.
- For your safety, do not drive or operate any machinery that could be dangerous. Wait until the medicine wears off and you can think clearly and react easily.
- Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You may take one or more of the following medicines:
- Rate-control medicines to slow the heart rate.
- Rhythm-control medicines that help the heart keep a normal rhythm.
- Blood thinners, also called anticoagulants, which help prevent blood clots.
- Do not take any vitamins, over-the-counter medicines, or herbal products without talking to your doctor first.
- Talk to your doctor about what type and level of exercise are safe for you.
- When you exercise, watch for signs that your heart is working too hard. You are pushing too hard if you cannot talk while you are exercising. If you become short of breath or dizzy or have chest pain, sit down and rest right away.
- Check your pulse regularly. Place two fingers on the artery at the palm side of your wrist in line with your thumb. If your heartbeat seems uneven or fast, talk to your doctor.
- Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. Limit sodium, alcohol, and sugar.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
- Manage other health problems. If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drug use, talk to your doctor.
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 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.
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 symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
- Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
- Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
- A fast or irregular heartbeat.
- After calling 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 now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
- You have a fast or irregular heartbeat.
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
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