Doctors provide nonemergency cardioversion to treat atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. These conditions are not life threatening, and the nonemergency cardioversion may convert the abnormal heart rhythms back to the normal sinus rhythm, explains the Heart Rhythm Society.
Doctors may provide elective or nonemergency cardioversion to patients who are young, have suffered from atrial fibrillation for less than one year, or if it is the patient's first atrial fibrillation episode, explains WebMD. When the doctor performs this procedure depends on how long the patient has had atrial fibrillation and his stroke risk. For patients who have had atrial fibrillation for less than 48 hours, doctors may perform the nonemergency cardioversion procedure immediately. For patients who have had atrial fibrillation for more than 48 hours, doctors recommend taking anticoagulant medication for a few weeks before the procedure to minimize the risk of stroke.
Before the procedure, the patient should not eat or drink anything for eight hours, according to the American Heart Association. He should not apply any lotion, ointments or cream on his chest or back for at least 24 hours before the cardioversion, as they may cause issues with the paddles that deliver electricity to his heart. He should also leave all jewelry at home.