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Tilt Table Test

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Definition

During a tilt table test, a person lies on a table. The table is then tilted from a horizontal to a vertical position. The person’s heart rate and blood pressure are monitored throughout the test.

Blood Flow to the Brain
Nucleus factsheet image
Fainting may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test

This is done to help diagnose the cause of unexplained fainting . The test attempts to reproduce the conditions that may cause you to faint.

Possible Complications

This test may bring on symptoms of fainting. Your medical team will be on hand to help you.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

You may be asked not to eat or drink for 2-4 hours before the test. Take any medication as usual, unless your doctor tells you not to. Wear comfortable clothes.

Description of Test

Electrode patches will be placed on your chest, legs, and arms. These patches connect you to an electrocardiogram (ECG). This is a device that monitors your heart rate. Next, a blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure. An IV will be placed into a vein in your arm or the back of your hand. This will allow the doctor to take a blood sample and to deliver medication if needed.

You will be asked to lie flat on a table. Safety straps will secure you. The table will be raised slowly until it is in an upright position. This change in position mimics the change from lying down to standing up. You may stay in this position for 5-45 minutes. This depends on the reason for the test.

During this change in position, the doctor will monitor your blood pressure and heart rate. While upright, you will need to stay as still as possible. A nurse or doctor will ask you how you feel throughout the test. You may faint during the test or feel like you are going to faint. If this happens, the table will be returned to the horizontal position. If you do not pass out, you may be given a medication that can aid with the diagnosis.

After Test

You will be able to go home after the test. You should be able to resume your usual activities.

How Long Will It Take?

About 90 minutes.

Will It Hurt?

During the test, you may feel sick or lightheaded. You may also feel that your heart is racing as if you were about to pass out. If so, tell your doctor. You may feel some discomfort where the IV is placed in your arm.

Results

You should get the results the day of the test. The results will help show the condition that has caused the fainting. Other tests may needed to help with the diagnosis also.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • More episodes of fainting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Racing heart
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Revision Information

  • American Heart Association

    http://www.heart.org

  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

    http://www.ninds.nih.gov

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

    http://www.heartandstroke.ca

  • Cleveland Clinic. Head upright tilt test. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/services/tests/electrocard/hut.aspx. Updated September 2011. Accessed May 10, 2013.

  • DynaMed Editors. Syncope evaluation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 5, 2012. Accessed May 10, 2013.

  • Tilt table testing. Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular%5Fdisorders/cardiovascular%5Ftests%5Fand%5Fprocedures/tilt%5Ftable%5Ftesting.html. Updated January 2013. Accessed May 10, 2013.