Tilt Table

Why is the doctor performing this test?

To determine why you are fainting (fainting is also called syncope).

What is the test?

Fainting or syncope occurs by several different mechanisms. It is important to determine the cause of the syncope to understand the risks and severity of future fainting episodes. A tilt table can provide this information.

The most common type of syncope is vasovagal syncope due to an abnormal neurological reflex. While this cause of fainting can be frightening to those who witness it, it is rarely life-threatening. People with simple fainting experience a sudden drop in blood pressure,  and/or heart rate often while they are standing or sitting.

During a tilt test the patient lies on a table and is connected to an ECG machine and a blood pressure cuff on one arm.  The table is then tilted upwards (head up) to 60-70 degrees.  The patient will have comfortable straps over their legs and lower chest for a sense of security.  The table is kept up for 15-30 minutes with the patient’s heart rate constantly monitored and blood pressure checked every minute.  If there is no response, the table is lowered to flat and a medication my be administered through an IV.  The table is then taken back up for another 15-30 minutes.  If the patient develops symptoms of light-headedness or fainting the table is laid flat and the test is terminated.

Where is the test performed?

The test is performed in the Non-Invasive Cardiology Testing Area.

How long does this test take?