What Is a Head-Up Tilt Table Test?

If you have fainting spells, your doctor may suggest you get a head-up tilt table test to find out why. It measures the difference in your heart rate and blood pressure when you stand up or lie down.

When you take this test, you lie on a stretcher while you are tilted at different angles (30 to 60 degrees). While this is going on, your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level are monitored.

How Should I Prepare?

  • Take all the medicines you're prescribed.
  • Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before your test. If you must take medications, drink only small sips of water to help you swallow your pills.
  • When you come for your test, bring a list of all your current medications, including the dose.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Don't wear jewelry or bring valuables.
  • Arrange for a friend or relative drive you home after the test.
  • If you have diabetes, ask for specific instructions on taking your medications and eating and drinking before the test.

What Should I Expect During the Test?

It usually takes 1 hour, but the time may vary, depending on how your blood pressure and heart rate change during the test and any symptoms you may get.

Before the test starts, a nurse will put an IV (intravenous) line in a vein. This lets your doctor give you medications and fluids during the procedure if you need them.

You'll be awake during the test, but you'll need to lie quietly and keep your legs still.

A nurse will connect you to monitors, including a:

Defibrillator/ pacemaker . It's attached to one sticky patch placed on the center of your back and one on your chest. It's just a safety precaution. It lets your doctor pace your heart rate if it's too slow, or send energy to your heart if it's too fast.

Electrocardiogram. A nurse attaches it to several sticky electrode patches that are placed on your chest. It creates a picture on graph paper of the electrical impulses that travel through your heart.

Oximeter monitor. It's attached to a small clip on your finger to check the oxygen level of your blood.

Blood pressure monitor . A nurse puts a cuff on your arm to keep an eye on your blood pressure throughout the test.

Depending on your medical history, a nurse may take a blood sample before and during the tilt test to measure a hormone called adrenaline.


What Will I Feel During the Test?

You may not feel anything at all. It's also possible you may get symptoms you notice when you're about to pass out, or you may faint. It's important to describe your symptoms to the doctor or nurse.

As part of the test, your doctor may give you a drug called Isuprel or nitroglycerin spray under your tongue. These may make you feel nervous or jittery, or you may feel your heart beat faster or stronger. These sensations will go away as the medication wears off.

What Happens After a Tilt Table Test?

Most likely, you'll be able to go home. You should have someone with you to drive you home.

After you get the results of the test, your doctor may change your medications, add others, or order additional tests.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on February 04, 2019



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