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Tilt Table Test

Topic Overview

A tilt table test is used to evaluate people who have had fainting or near-fainting spells. The results can help your doctor know if your fainting is caused by a heart rhythm problem such as bradycardia.

How does a tilt table test work?

A tilt table test checks how your body responds when you change body positions. The body's nervous system detects changes in body position or stress and regulates your heart rate and blood pressure. If the nervous system doesn't work properly, you can have a drop in blood pressure and/or a fainting spell.

If you stand up for a long time, you might feel lightheaded or you might faint. A specially designed tilt table puts you at an almost upright position, so you don't use your muscles to stay upright. This lets your doctor see if you faint or have symptoms because of your heart rate or blood pressure.

How is it done?

This test is usually done in a hospital or a cardiologist's office. During the test, you will lie flat on a table that can tilt you up to almost a standing position.

Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored during the entire test.

You will be asked if you feel any symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or palpitations.

If you don't have any symptoms, you may be given medicine to speed up your heart rate. Then you will be checked for symptoms again.

If you faint during the test, the table will be returned to a flat position. You will be checked closely. Most people regain consciousness right away.

A tilt table test takes about an hour.

How do you prepare for the test?

You might be asked to not eat or drink for a few hours before the test. Ask your doctor if you need to stop taking any of your medicines before the test.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Carlson MD, Grubb BP (2011). Diagnosis and management of syncope. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's The Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1125–1138. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Last Revised November 28, 2011

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