Before

  • If you have diabetes, ask the scheduling nurse how to adjust your diabetes medication(s).
  • If you take an anticoagulant (“blood thinner”), such as Coumadin (warfarin), ask the scheduling nurse for specific guidelines about taking it on the day of the procedure.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure.
  • Continue to take all of your medications as prescribed on the day of the procedure, but take them with only small sips of water.
  • Do not bring valuables to the hospital.

You will receive an instruction sheet that describes how to prepare for the procedure. Here’s an overview of those instructions.

When should I arrive?

The day before your scheduled procedure, the nurse will tell you what time you should come to the hospital.

The time you are told to report for your procedure is the check-in time and not the actual time of the procedure. Your healthcare team will spend time getting you ready for your procedure.Please know that emergency situations and unexpected delays may change the daily procedure schedule and can cause your procedure to be delayed or possibly cancelled.

Should I take my medications?

Continue to take all of your medications as prescribed on the day of the procedure, unless you have been given other instructions.

If you need to take medications the morning of the procedure, please only drink small sips of water to swallow them.

When you call for your procedure time, please ask the nurse for specific guidelines about taking anticoagulants (“blood thinners”), such as Coumadin (warfarin) on the day of the procedure.

If you have diabetes, ask the nurse how to adjust your diabetes medications or insulin before the procedure.

Can I eat before the procedure?

Eat a normal meal the evening before your procedure. However, DO NOT eat, drink or chew anything after 12 midnight before your procedure. This includes gum, mints, water, etc.

If you must take medications, take them with only small sips of water. When brushing your teeth, do not swallow any water.

What should I wear?

  • Wear comfortable, easy-to-fold clothes when you come to the hospital. You will change into a hospital gown for the procedure.

Here are some other guidelines to follow before the procedure:

  • When getting ready, please do not wear makeup and remove nail polish.
  • Do not use deodorant, powder, cream or lotion on your back or chest, as this may interfere with the adhesive pads that are placed during the procedure.
  • When you brush your teeth, do not swallow any water.
  • Please leave all jewelry (including wedding rings), watches and valuables at home.

What should I bring?

Bring a complete list of your medications. Also bring a one-day supply of your prescription medications. Do not take these medications without first talking with the doctor or nurse.

Please bring a responsible adult who can drive you home after the procedure. The medication you’ll receive during the procedure will make you drowsy, so it is unsafe for you to drive. You will not be able to drive for 24 hours after the procedure.

What happens before the procedure?

Before the procedure begins, a nurse will help you get ready and you will change into a hospital gown. You may keep your clothes in a locker or you may give them to a family member.

You will lie on a bed and the nurse will start an intravenous (IV) line in a vein in your arm or hand. The IV is used to deliver medications and fluids during the procedure.

EKG patches and adhesive cardioversion pads will be placed on your chest, and sometimes, on your back. Men may have their chest hair shaved if necessary.

Electrical Cardioversion Monitors

Monitors Used During the Procedure

Cardioverter: Attached to one sticky patch placed on the center of your back and one on your chest. This allows the doctor and nurse to pace your heart rate if it is too slow, or deliver energy to your heart if the rate is too fast.

Electrocardiogram or EKG: Attached to several sticky electrode patches placed on your chest. Provides a picture on the monitors of the electrical impulses traveling through the heart.

Blood pressure monitor: Connected to a blood pressure cuff on your arm. Checks your blood pressure throughout the procedure.

Oximeter monitor: Attached to a small clip placed on your finger. Checks the oxygen level of your blood.

Will I be monitored?

The nurse will connect you to several monitors that allow the healthcare team to check your heart rhythm and blood pressure during the procedure (see Monitors Used During the Procedure above). You are continually monitored during the procedure.

Will I be awake during the procedure?

No. You will receive a medication through your IV to make you fall asleep during the procedure.

What happens during the procedure?

While you are asleep, the doctor will use the cardioverter machine (defibrillator) to deliver specific amounts of energy to your heart through the cardioversion patches. The shock interrupts the abnormal electrical rhythm and restores a normal heart rhythm.

Although the procedure only takes a few seconds, several attempts may be needed to restore the normal heart rhythm.

You may need to have a special test called a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) before the cardioversion to evaluate the blood flow across your heart. During this test, you will swallow a narrow tube with a camera at the tip so the doctors can get a closer view of your heart.

If a TEE is recommended, you will receive more information about how the procedure is performed.

How long does the cardioversion procedure last?

The procedure itself lasts only a few minutes. However, the preparation and recovery time for the procedure may add a few hours to your appointment. Please plan to stay at Cleveland Clinic 4 to 6 hours for your appointment.

If you have an appointment with your physician on the same day of the procedure, please plan to spend the entire day at Cleveland Clinic.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2019.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy