What is a tilt-table test?

A tilt-table test is a medical procedure that is used to diagnose an underlying condition in patients who are having unexplained, recurring episodes of syncope. The goal of the test is to trigger your symptoms in a controlled setting.

What happens during the test?

During the test, you will lie down on a table and the table will elevate to a 60- to 90-degree angle so the head is above the body. A nurse will monitor your heart rate and blood pressure as it responds to gravity for five to 45 minutes, depending on the reason for the test. In some cases, you will be given a medication called nitroglycerin which dilates the blood vessels.

If you do feel any symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, sweating, lightheadedness or irregular heartbeat, please let your healthcare provider know right away.

Who are candidates for a tilt-table test?

Patients who are experiencing unexplained, recurring syncope episodes (with or without the loss of consciousness) are candidates for a tilt-table test.

Risk associated with tilt-table tests

Although a tilt-table test is typically very safe, potential complications can occur. Complications include:

  • Extended period of low blood pressure
  • Extended period of pause between heartbeats
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness or headache
  • Palpitations

Symptoms are relieved when the table returns to a flat position. It is important to communicate with your doctor or nurse during the procedure if you are experiencing any new or abnormal symptoms.

What happens after a tilt-table test?

Most patients can resume their normal activities right after a tilt-table test. Stay in regular contact with your doctor if you are continuing to have symptoms during and after the treatment.

How quickly are results available?

Your doctor will give you results of your tests as soon as the test is over. In some cases, your doctor may send results one to three days later.

If you did not experience any changes in blood pressure or symptoms during the test, your will have a negative or normal test. If you experienced any dizziness or fainted during the test, you will have a positive test. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms.

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