My very good friend is in intensive care with some kind of viral infection that has caused fluid in his lungs and around his heart. He tells me they are going to stop and restart his heart tomorrow in an effort to stabilize him. Does anyone know anything about this kind of thing?
Hello, I assume they are going to cardiovert him. This is where they use electrical current to stop the heart which usually restarts in normal sinus rhythm. He will be put under sedation and will not feel a thing.
The worst part is that the paddles can leave burn marks on the chest and back which can itch terribly.
I don't want to minimize any heart procedure because they all have risks but this procedure is very common and safe. The docs will make sure that he does not have any clots. If he is on anticoagulation meds (such as Coumadin) they will make sure he is in therapuetic range. If not they may do a TEE (simple procedure to check for clots). If all looks well they procede to "zap". Usually it only takes one zap occasionally it takes more. There is always a risk of stroke which is why they check for clots first. I have had this procedure done 6 times without any problems.
I've had cardioversions done several times without problems.
As someone said, there is a risk of a stroke if there are blood clots in the atria. Usually if someone is hospitalized with afib, the doctor will prescribe IV heparin to minimize this possibility. I take warfarin (blood thinner) regularly to keep clots from occurring. I am very prone to atrial fibrillation.
If there are no complications, it's a piece of cake for the cardiovertee.
My cardiologist finally put me on a medicine (sotalol hcl) that has kept my heart at normal sinus rhythm for several years. But he still keeps me on warfarin just in case.