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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Chemical cardioversion is medicine given to correct arrhythmias. An arrhythmia is when your heart beats too fast or irregularly. It may prevent your body from getting the blood and oxygen it needs. Your heart has 4 chambers called the atria and ventricles. The atria are at the top of your heart, and the ventricles are at the bottom of your heart. Most arrhythmias that need cardioversion start in the atria.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Heart medicine: This medicine helps strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your cardiologist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Manage other health conditions: These include diabetes, thyroid problems, or high blood pressure or other health conditions that may affect your heart. Ask if you need help to manage these conditions.
- Eat heart-healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Decrease the amount of sodium (salt) and caffeine you eat or drink. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
- Exercise: This will improve your heart health. Ask your primary healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. Start slowly and increase activity as you get stronger. Stop if you feel short of breath.
- Limit alcohol: Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can cause further harm to your heart. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
For more information:
- American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas , TX 75231-4596
Phone: 1- 800 - 242-8721
Web Address: http://www.heart.org
Contact your primary healthcare provider or cardiologist if:
- You have new symptoms that you did not have during your last visit.
- You feel like your heart rhythm has gone back to being too fast or irregular.
- You have new or worsening swelling in your feet or ankles.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your heart is fluttering or jumping.
- You feel lightheaded, or you fainted.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You cough up blood.
- You have discomfort in your chest that feels like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain.
- You have pain or discomfort in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm.
- You have weakness or numbness in part of your body.
- You have sudden trouble breathing.
- You become confused or have difficulty speaking.
- You have dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.