Tilt Table Test

What is a tilt table test?

If you have had syncope (fainting), a tilt table test can help your doctor determine the cause of the problem. During the test, you lie on a table that can be moved upright while your heart rate, blood pressure and symptoms are closely monitored.

How does the test work?

The movement of the table causes the blood to pool in the lower part of the body. As a result of the tilt less blood returns to the heart less blood is available for the heart to pump and the blood pressure starts to drop.

Normally the nerves that control the function of the heart and blood vessels maintain a normal blood pressure they do this by making the heart beat faster and by tightening the blood vessels. In people who are susceptible to vasovagal syncope these nerves do not work properly. As a result the heart slows down the blood pressure drops and the symptoms occur. Once the table is lowered to a flat position the symptoms go away.

What should I expect during the test?

When you arrive at the hospital several electrodes or sticky patches will be attached to your chest and an EKG will be obtained, this monitors your heart rhythm. A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure and an intravenous line or IV will be placed so that fluids and medications can be injected, if needed.

You will lie on a special table for a few minutes and then the table will be moved until you are nearly upright. You will remain in this upright position for a relatively long period of time, up to 45 minutes. Your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored continuously. Let the doctor or nurse know if you develop symptoms.

When do I get the results?

The doctor may be able to give you a preliminary result the day of the test but the final results will be discussed during a future office visit.