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.
This is done to help diagnose the cause of unexplained fainting. The test attempts to reproduce the conditions that may cause you to faint.
This test may bring on symptoms of fainting. Your medical team will be on hand to help you.
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.
Electrode patches will be placed on your chest, legs, and arms. These patches connect you to an ECG. This is a device that monitors your heart's electrical activity. Next, a blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure. An IV will allow a blood sample to be taken and medication to be delivered 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, your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored. While upright, you will need to stay as still as possible. You will be asked 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 faint, you may be given a medication that can aid with the diagnosis.
You will be able to go home after the test. You should be able to resume your usual activities.
About 90 minutes.
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 when the IV is placed in your arm.
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 as well.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you are having an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Heart Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Head upright tilt test. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/17043-head-upright-tilt-test. Updated September 2013. Accessed February 28, 2018.
Syncope—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116050/Syncope-approach-to-the-patient. Updated February 14, 2018. Accessed February 28, 2018.
Tilt table testing. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/cardiovascular-tests-and-procedures/tilt-table-testing. Updated September 2017. Accessed February 28, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 5/2/2014