During a tilt table test, a person lies on a table. The table is then tilted from lying down to an upright position. The person’s heart rate and blood pressure are checked throughout the test.
Fainting may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain.
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A tilt test is done to help diagnose the cause of unexplained fainting. The test tries to create the same conditions that may cause a person to faint.
This test may lead to lightheadedness or fainting. If so, the care team will be there to help.
You may be asked not to eat or drink for 2 to 4 hours before the test.
Electrode patches will be placed on the chest, legs, and arms. These patches connect to an ECG. An ECG is a device that checks the heart's electrical activity. Next, a blood pressure cuff will be placed on the arm to check blood pressure. An IV may also be placed in the arm. This is to take a blood sample or give medicine—if needed.
You will lie flat on a table. Safety straps will secure you. The table will be raised slowly until upright. You may stay in this position for 5 to 45 minutes. It depends on the reason for the test.
Your blood pressure and heart rate will be checked. While upright, you will need to stay as still as possible. You will be asked you how you feel throughout the test. If you faint or feel like you might faint, the table will be returned to a lying down position. If you do not faint, you may be given a medicine that can help with the diagnosis.
You can go home.
About 90 minutes
During the test some people feel sick, lightheaded, or a fast heartbeat. The IV may cause some discomfort when first put in.
The doctor will discuss the test results with you.
Call your doctor if you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help 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-tilt-table-test. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Shen WK, Sheldon RS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/HRS Guideline for the evaluation and management of patients with syncope: executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines, and the Heart Rhythm Society. J Am Coll Cardiol 2017;70(5):620
Syncope—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/syncope-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Tilt table testing. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/cardiovascular-tests-and-procedures/tilt-table-testing . Accessed September 2, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA