A tilt table test can help your doctor determine the cause of the problem if you have had syncope (fainting). During the test, you lie on a table that can be moved upright (head up, feet down) while your heart rate, blood pressure, and symptoms are closely monitored. Tilt table testing is used to assess a common type of syncope, called vasovagal syncope, also referred to as neurocardiogenic syncope of the ‘common faint.”
Is the Test Safe?
The tilt table test is generally safe. By design, it may cause you to faint for a few moments. If you faint, the table will be lowered quickly to the flat position and the test will be stopped. A doctor, a nurse, and other personnel will be there to handle any emergency.
Preparing for the Test
- Do not to eat or drink for at least 4 hours before the test. If you have diabetes and take medication for it, you will need special instructions.
- When you schedule the test, tell your doctor if you take heart medications. He or she may ask you to stop certain medications a day or two before the test.
- Ask someone to drive you home, since you may not be permitted to drive after the test.
The Test Process
The test takes about 1 to 2 hours including preparation. You will have to lie on a special table that can be moved to a nearly upright position. This causes blood to pool (settle) in the lower part of the body. As a result of the tilt, less blood returns to the heart, less blood is available for the heart to pump, and blood pressure starts to drop.
After the Test
You may feel a little unsettled, or queasy for a few minutes after the test. If this happens, you will feel better before you stand up and get dressed. You may also feel tired after a lengthy test. That is why it is important to have someone to drive you home.