What Are Some Side Effects of Cardioversion?

Skin irritation where the doctor placed the electrical cardioversion paddles and a drop in blood pressure are some of the side effects of cardioversion, according to Mayo Clinic. The procedure may also trigger other heart rhythm problems or dislodge a blood clot.

Some patients experience irritation on their skin where the paddles were placed, reports the American Heart Association. However, skin creams and pain medication can alleviate the pain or discomfort. Cardioversion may also cause a drop in blood pressure, though this often improves on its own without treatment, according to Mayo Clinic.

Cardioversion may trigger other slow or fast arrhythmias, notes UpToDate. In certain situations, the sinus node may refuse to work properly after the procedure, and this causes the heart rate to slow down. A temporary pacemaker can solve this issue.

A serious side effect of cardioversion is stroke, which may happen if the cardioversion procedure dislodges a blood clot, explains Mayo Clinic. To reduce this risk, doctors prescribe anticoagulant medications to patients who have suffered from atrial fibrillation for more than 48 hours. The doctor may also ask the patient to take blood thinners for a few more weeks after the treatment, according to Cigna.

The high-energy shock may damage heart tissue, though this is rare, reports UpToDate. Patients may suffer side effects due to sedation, and the risk of these side effects increases in patients who are obese, have an abnormal airway or have sleep apnea. Some patients react to the medicines that doctors give them before or after the procedure, according to WebMD.