A tilt table test assesses how your blood pressure responds to a change in positions. It is most often used to diagnose the cause of fainting.
During the Procedure
During the test, you will be connected to an electrocardiograph machine while lying on a special examining table that can be tilted to various positions. Safety straps ensure you remain secured to the table should you begin to feel faint. The table will be adjusted to a 60 to 80 degree position for approximately 45 minutes. During that time your heart and blood pressure will be monitored. If you complete this portion of the test without experiencing a steep drop in blood pressure, a medication that mimics the effect of adrenalin may be injected into an IV in your arm. The table will then be tilted for an additional 45 minutes.
Patients may become very light-headed when the table is tilted, but can usually be returned to a flat position before they actually faint. Depending on your responses the test may last up to 2 hours.
After the Procedure
Some patients report feeling slightly queasy or tired for a brief period afterward. Almost all patients return to feeling normal within 5-10 minutes of the test. Unless you feel unusually fatigued, you may drive yourself home.
Your physician will discuss the results of the test with you. A positive test - one that does induce fainting - indicates that vasovagal reflex -a sudden drop in blood pressure that reduces blood flow to the brain - is the most likely cause of your fainting. The condition is not dangerous except for the increased risk of accidents during a fainting spell and can be treated with cardiac medications.