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Chemical Cardioversion


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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


You may need to rest in bed until your heart rhythm is normal. Your caregiver will tell you when it is okay to get out of bed. Call your caregiver before getting up for the first time. If you feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away. Tell your caregiver.


  • EKG: This test records the electrical activity of your heart. It is used to check for an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
  • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.
  • Intake and output: Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


The results of these tests help caregivers plan the best way to treat you:

  • Blood tests: A sample of your blood may be tested to find the cause of your condition or how severe it is. Blood tests can also show how well your medicines are working.
  • Chest x-ray: This is used to check the size of your heart and look for fluid around your heart and lungs.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure and function of your heart.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram: This test is also called a TEE. It may be done if your heart cannot be seen well during a regular echo. A TEE will show blood clots or a heart infection. You will be given medicine to relax you during a TEE. Caregivers will put a tube in your mouth that is moved down into your esophagus. The tube has a small ultrasound sensor on the end. Since your esophagus is right next to your heart, your caregiver can see your heart clearly.


  • Blood thinners: This medicine helps prevent clots from forming in the blood. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. Use an electric razor and soft toothbrush to help prevent bleeding.
  • Heart medicine: This medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.


Electrical cardioversion may be needed if chemical cardioversion does not help your heart rhythm. Electrical cardioversion is when an electric shock is given to the heart. The shock is usually given through paddles or sticky patches placed on your chest or back. The shock helps your heart return to a normal beat. You may be given medicine to help you relax before the electric shock. If the shock works, your heart rate and rhythm will improve. You may need an electrical cardioversion more than once.


Chemical cardioversion may cause other heart or blood pressure problems. Even with cardioversion, your heart may not return to or stay in a normal rhythm. Some arrhythmias may cause a blood clot to form in your heart. The clot may travel to other parts of your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. If untreated, some arrhythmias can increase your risk of heart failure or a heart attack.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.