The way they use defibrillators is just shocking!
April 21, 2006 5:58 AM   Subscribe

When someone's heart stops and is then restarted with a defibrillator, what are the expected sequelae and the ordinary follow-up? I would assume a visit to the hospital, but what if the incident occurs in hospital?

The question is prompted by watching one too many incidents on House where the patient gets zapped and then it's never mentioned again.
posted by OmieWise to Health & Fitness (2 answers total)
I don't know the official steps, likely varies depending on the severity of the heart trouble.

My personal experience with this was brief - several years ago, I developed an atrial fibrillation (sp?) which is basically an arhythmic heartbeat that didn't seem to make the doctors overly concerned. They even treated me initially by letting me rest for a couple of hours, expecting it to self-correct. When it didn't, they opted to zap me with the paddles. They sedated me, zapped me, and when I woke, I was good as new. Just needed a reboot, I guess. I walked out within the hour, no follow-ups. I did have some lingering soreness (it felt like I'd been hit with a bat twice), and some phantom twitchy muscles for a while, but that was really minor.
posted by kokogiak at 7:14 AM on April 21, 2006

Defibrillators aren't used on hearts that have stopped to the point of asystole; they're used on fibrillating hearts. Atrial cardioversion isn't very traumatic and you can let the folks walk on out.

Ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia usually buys the patient an admission to the coronary care unit (an ICU), largely because of the risk that it might happen again in not very long; also, many of these folks have myocardial infarction as a cause or a sequel of their ventricular rhythm disturbance. (A lot of them have strokes, too.)
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:26 PM on April 21, 2006

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