Key Points about Tilt Table Tests

  • A tilt-table test is a procedure used to help doctors diagnose patients who are experiencing syncope
  • The test is meant to purposefully trigger symptoms in a setting that doctors can monitor and control
  • During the test, the table you’re on will elevate to a 60- to 90-degree angle while a nurse monitors heart function

Overview

The tilt-table test simulates sitting to standing in a controlled, monitored environment, giving the doctors a chance to see the effects it has on a patient. It's used to diagnose and treat episodes of syncope (fainting).

Candidates for a tilt table test

If you’re experiencing unexplained syncope episodes that are happening on a regular basis, your doctor may order the test.

Risks associated with a tilt table test

Tilt-table tests a generally very safe. As with any procedure, potential complications can occur. These risks can include:

  • Low blood pressure for an extended period of time
  • Longer pauses between heartbeats
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or a mild to severe headache
  • Heart palpitations

It is important to communicate with your doctor or nurse during the procedure if you are experiencing any new or abnormal symptoms.

Preparing for a tilt test

Your doctor may have you refrain from eating or drinking 2-3 hours prior to taking the test.

If you’re taking medication, consult with your doctor about potential adjustments.

Duration of a tilt test

Tilt tests vary depending on the reason for the test but generally last between 20-45 minutes. The doctors will want to monitor test results during each position of the test to evaluate your hearts response to each phase.

Recovery from a tilt test

Barring any major issues during the test (like fainting or passing out), most people are able to return to their normal daily activities immediately. Depending on the results, your doctor might recommend additional tests to exclude other causes of syncope.