The tilt table test is performed on patients who have experienced episodes of syncope. Syncope can be a result of the brain not receiving sufficient blood flow and oxygen; it is a sudden brief loss of consciousness, or fainting spell. This test helps your physician determine if you are susceptible to certain kinds of syncope.
You will be placed on a special table that is raised upright to a position of seventy degrees. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the test. The upright position helps to induce syncope by causing the blood to collect in the lower part of your body, particularly the legs. This results in less blood returning to your heart, and causes your blood pressure to drop.
Some nerves do not work properly in patients who are susceptible to vasovagal syncope. Therefore, the heart and blood pressure decrease and the patient loses consciousness. If this happens to you, the table is returned to a flat position to restore normal blood flow so that you will regain consciousness.
What can I expect during the procedure?
To start the test, an IV will be inserted into a vein in your arm. A blood pressure cuff will be placed on each arm, and you will be connected to an EKG machine by electrodes that are placed on your chest. You will also be connected to a separate cardiac monitor and defibrillator. Safety straps will be placed around your legs, abdomen and chest to help secure you to the table. Your EKG and blood pressure will be monitored constantly during the procedure.
The table will be raised to an upright position of 70 degrees for 60 minutes. If no symptoms occur, the table is returned to a flat position. An adrenaline-like medication may be given through your IV to help induce syncope. The medication may cause an increase in your heart rate. You will then be tilted upright again for fifteen minutes. You will then be returned to a supine position and medication will be increased before returning to a final upright position for fifteen minutes. The table will then be returned to a flat position for a recovery period.
How do I prepare for the test?
Do not eat or drink four hours prior to the test. Take any medications unless told otherwise by your physician. Wear a two-piece outfit and comfortable shoes.