DC Cardioversion for Patients

DC Cardioversion
We hope this leaflet will help you to
understand a little more about your procedure
and the treatment you will receive afterwards
and what you need to do beforehand. If you
have any further questions, please do not
hesitate to ask the nursing and/or medical
staff. They will be happy to help you.
What is DC Cardioversion?
This is a procedure to restore a normal
rhythm to your heart. It is usually done as an
outpatient treatment in the Day Surgery
Unit.The bays in Day Surgery are mixed sex.
It is most commonly used to correct the
irregular rhythm known as Atrial Fibrillation, or
Atrial Flutter. DC Cardioversion uses specific
doses of electrical energy in the form of a
direct current shock to the outside of your
chest. This shock has the effect of correcting
the abnormal heart rhythm.
Preparation for day case admission
You will be invited to attend a
Pre-Assessment Clinic before you come into
hospital. A nurse will see you in this clinic.
You will be asked questions, and may be
examined. The assessment will include tests
for blood pressure and pulse. You will also be
asked to give a blood sample and have a
heart trace (ECG).
The procedure, its risks and benefits will be
explained to you at preassessment. You
should have started a drug called Please
bring a list of all your current medications.
You should have started a drug called
You need weekily checks of INR for 3
weeks before your pre-assessment.
Please feel free to ask any questions.
Before your DC Cardioversion
Once back in the bay you can rest and have
some refreshments. A repeat heart trace
(ECG) will be done and the result of the
procedure will be discussed with you by one
of the Cardioversion nurses.
So that the procedure may be carried out as
safely as possible, we also ask you to remove
all jewellery (except your wedding ring, which
can be taped to your finger), and any glasses,
contact lenses, hearing aids or dentures that
you wear. We will also ask you to put on a
hospital gown, but you may keep your
trousers on. Please bring in slippers and a
dressing gown.
Later in the day you will be able to go home.
As you have had a general anaesthetic you
will not be able to drive yourself home.
Therefore a friend or relative must
accompany you, be able to drive you home,
and stay with you overnight. Please inform us
at Pre-Assessment if there are any problems
with these arrangements. Unfortunately, if
you arrive for your procedure without these
measures in place, then your appointment will
have to be cancelled and rearranged for
another date.
The DC Cardioversion
After you go home
The procedure is actually very simple and
straightforward. It involves a small needle
being put into a vein in your arm so that you
can be given a very brief general anaesthetic,
which is designed to last no more than a few
You will receive an appointment to come back
to the outpatient clinic. We will normally ask
you to continue taking all your medication,
including the blood thinning medicine (anti
coagulant) until your outpatient appointment.
We will tell you if this is not the case.
Whilst under the anaesthetic you will receive
an electric shock across your chest. This
shock should return your heart rhythm to
normal, which should make you feel better.
About 90% of patients undergoing DC
Cardioversion immediately return to the
normal heart rhythm (sinus rhythm) after the
procedure. Sometimes after a successful DC
Cardioversion the irregular rhythm returns.
Anti-arrhythmic medicines can reduce this.
Your cardiologist will decide your medication
at the intial consultation. Your cardiologist
may request you commence this medication
and also before a repeat cardioversion.
Instructions for eating and drinking will be
given to you at pre-assessment.
After the DC Cardioversion
After your DC Cardioversion you will be taken
to the Recovery Unit, where you will be
monitored for about 20 minutes. A nurse will
take your blood pressure and pulse at regular
intervals. Once you are properly awake, you
will return to the bay, where you will continue
to be carefully monitored.
What are the risks and complications?
Any procedure may lead to problems, but
complications specific to this procedure
Allergic reaction to drugs or anaesthetic
You may experience mild skin redness
from the chest patches, but this is not
unusual and fades quickly
The main risk associated with atrial
fibrillation is the formation of a blood clot,
which could dislodge and travel through
the bloodstream as an ‘embolism’. This is
a risk associated with the rhythm itself and
may be slightly increased by the DC
Cardioversion. This risk is significantly
reduced by the use of anti coagulants
(blood thinning medicines) before and
after the DC Cardioversion
(Direct Current
If you have any further concerns you can
contact the Cardioversion Sisters on Tel:
01823 343068 from 9.00am to 16.30pm on
Mon/Tues or leave a message on voicemail.
If your call is urgent please telephone Cardiac
Catheter Laboratory on 01823 342067 Mon
8am - Friday 6pm.
ME009/D Eaton/Oct10reviewOct12