Thumbnail image of: Heart, External View: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Nodes Responsible for Cardiac Rhythm: Illustration

Ventricular Fibrillation Discharge Information

What is ventricular fibrillation?

Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is an abnormal heart rhythm that is irregular and very fast. If you have VF, the lower chambers of your heart do not squeeze effectively and little or no blood is pumped to your heart muscle and to the rest of your body. VF can occur suddenly when the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen. The most common cause of VF is a heart attack. Other causes may include narrowing of the arteries of the heart, some medicines, street drugs, or electrical shock.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the cause of VF, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have. Because the most common cause of VF is a heart attack or narrowed heart arteries, you need to make lifestyle changes to be healthier and to help keep from having heart problems. There are several things you can do.


  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
    • Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicines to:
    • Help the heart to beat normally
    • Control the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and reduce the workload of the heart
    • Relax and widen blood vessels and allow blood to flow through them easier
    • Control cholesterol levels


  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Lose weight if you need to and keep a healthy weight.
  • You may need to make changes in some of the foods you eat. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn what you need in a healthy diet.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
  • If you have an AICD (automatic internal cardiac defibrillator), your provider will give you a list of precautions, such as using caution with security devices, avoiding magnetic resonance image (MRI) scans, taking antibiotics before dental or surgical procedures, and avoiding certain activities.
  • If you have an AICD, you will need to have the batteries replaced about every 5 to 10 years.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Find ways to make your life less stressful.

Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

  • Chest pain or pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back (may feel like indigestion or heartburn)
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders, or in your back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Trouble breathing
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat for no known reason
  • Along with the previous symptoms, feeling very tired, faint, or sick to your stomach

If you have any of these symptoms, do not drive yourself.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Chest pain that gets worse or happens more often
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too slow, or skipping beats
  • Signs of infection around your surgical wound if you had surgery. These include:
    • The area around your wound is more red or painful
    • Your wound area is very warm to touch
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
    • You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)

Ask your healthcare provider about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-30
Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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