AF Association
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Electro Cardioversion


2 weeks ago I was zapped. They started at 100 joules, then 150 and then 200 joules, which worked.

Unfortunately I was awake and felt the last shock, they expected me to forget, but I didn’t. It was very horrible. I now struggle to sleep,as I wake up with the same “shocking” sensation. I found out later that for a lady of 20stone they should have started the procedure at at least 150 joules, if not 200 joules and i now feel that my case was rather mismanaged. Am I being unreasonable?

6 Replies

No I don't think thats unreasonable to think it's been mismanaged. Generally when I've had my cardioversions I've weighed around 100kg - 15 stone - (when i was actually keeping track) and they've always gone in at 150 joules whenever I've asked.

Only one of the 14 DC cardioversions I really remember as being "awake" as such, and it was done in Resus. I remember dropping off, with two registrars a nurse and the ED sister all around the trolley, but opening my eyes and the ward sister shouting STOP he's awake again.....

But I do know the levels of sedation/relaxant aren't very high because it's such a "quick thing".

It's quite possible that in misjudging the level of shock to give you they also misjudged the amount of sedation you should have had based on body.

Horrible experience if you keep having flashbacks, the only similar flashback experience I've had is when totally passed out in the lab during one of my first 2 ablations, I think the very first one... and I remember them removing a tube from my throat in recovery when I was coming round. I felt that for a few days after not just sensation but waking up thinking about it.


No I don’t think it unreasonable either.

I would agree with Jedi and if you are suffering to such an extent that you are finding it difficult to sleep I would ask for a referral for help in recovering.

What a horrible thing to happen to you.

Very best wishes

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Not unreasonable. I had a not dissimilar experience with my 1st DCCV 25/6 years ago...was given insufficient anaesthetic and felt paddles on my chest like an elephant jumping on me causing me to scream out( confirmed by nursing staff) . I relived this very many times until I was eventually able to ' let go '.

I relayed this to an anaesthetist more recently. She was quite alarmed and said that these days this sort of thing is taken very seriously and would be properly investigated. Due to the time lapse she was unable to do anything. Not that it bothers me any more. The usual sedation given now is much preferable.

I have had 17 DCCV s since..most recently a month ago.. .and have noticed that these days I convert back to SR with one shock 100 or 150j ( and I'm no lightweight!🙄)


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Sounds like you have a post trauma stress - maybe try an internet search for a therapeutic approach that you feel comfortable with, such as hypnotherapy or EFT. Or contact your hospital Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and ask your GP for a referral to NHS counselling. PALS will also pass on your experience details to the appropriate people and hopefully lessons may be learned :o) Hope you feel better soon.

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Wendy, not sure where you live but at my local hospital in south Essex they are hopless, they never answer the phone and when you leave a message they never get back to you. They are simply an extention of hospital administration to make us poor saps think we can have a say and someone is helping us fight our corner, when in reality we have none. Sorry for coming across as an angry old man but that is what I am these days.

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That's a shame, I haven't used PALS where I live now, but I used to work in a hospital in Yorkshire and knew the PALS team personally - and they were really genuine and caring people. I know however, that even genuinely nice people can be limited by the institutional processes and rules they have to work within.

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