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What happens if my doctor detects clotting before cardioversion?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

If your doctor detects signs of blood clots in your heart before you undergo cardioversion, then he or she will blow a whistle and call a timeout: You won’t be having cardioversion today.

Performing this procedure, which restores normal cardiac rhythm, is too dangerous for people who have blood clots in the heart. So you’ll be sent home with blood-thinning medicine to dissolve the clots and prevent more from forming. In most cases, you should able to reschedule within a few weeks.

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Before performing electrical cardioversion, your doctor may perform a test to check for blood clots called a transesophageal echocardiogram. With this test, a transducer is gently guided down the throat into the esophagus. From this position, the transducer gathers images of your heart.

If after viewing these images your doctor believes there is a risk of blood clots, you may be sent home with a prescription for warfarin (Coumadin) or another blood thinner. Because of the risk of blood clots breaking off during the electrical cardioversion procedure, your doctor will want to make sure your blood is thin and the risk of clotting is minimal.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.