Complications of electric cardioversion are uncommon, and doctors can take steps to reduce your risk. Major risks of cardioversion include:

  • Dislodged blood clots. Some people who have irregular heartbeats have blood clots in their hearts. Electric cardioversion can cause these blood clots to move to other parts of your body. This can cause life-threatening complications, such as a stroke or a blood clot traveling to your lungs (pulmonary embolism).

    If necessary, your doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications before the procedure or will check for blood clots in your heart before cardioversion.

  • Abnormal heart rhythm. In rare cases, some people who undergo cardioversion end up with other heart rhythm problems during or after their procedure. This is a rare complication. If it happens, it usually shows up only minutes after your procedure, so your doctor can give you medications or additional shocks to correct the problem.
  • Skin burns. Rarely, some people have minor burns on their skin where their electrodes were placed.

Pregnant women can have cardioversion, but it's recommended that the baby's heartbeat is monitored during the procedure.

June 27, 2017
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  2. Cardioversion. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Cardioversion_UCM_447318_Article.jsp#.WLOrOPImHOM. Accessed Feb. 26, 2017.
  3. Cardioversion. Heart Rhythm Society. http://www.hrsonline.org/Patient-Resources/Treatment/Cardioversion. Accessed Feb. 26, 2017.
  4. Knight BP. Basic principles and technique of electrical cardioversion and defibrillation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 26, 2017.
  5. Knight BP. Cardioversion for specific arrhythmias. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 26, 2017.
  6. Risk factors & prevention. Heart Rhythm Society. http://www.hrsonline.org/Patient-Resources/Risk-Factors-Prevention. Accessed Feb. 27, 2017.