• Tilt Table Test

    (Head-Up Tilt Table Test [HUT]; Passive Head-Up Tilt Test; Upright Tilt Test)

    Definition

    During a tilt table test, a person lies on a table. The table is then tilted from a horizontal to a vertical position. The person’s heart rate and blood pressure are monitored throughout the test.
    Blood Flow to the Brain
    Nucleus factsheet image
    Fainting may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Reasons for Test

    This is done to help diagnose the cause of unexplained fainting (syncope). The test attempts to reproduce the conditions that may cause you to faint.

    Possible Complications

    This test may bring on symptoms like fainting. Your medical team will be on hand to help you.

    What to Expect

    Prior to Test

    You may be asked not to eat or drink for 2-4 hours before the test. Take any medicines as usual, unless your doctor tells you not to. Wear comfortable clothes.

    Description of Test

    Electrodes (sticky patches attached to wires) will be placed on your chest, legs, and arms. These patches connect you to an electrocardiogram (ECG). This is a device that monitors your heart rate. Next, a blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure. An IV will be placed into a vein in your arm or the back of your hand. This will allow the doctor to take a blood sample and to deliver medicines (if needed).
    You will be asked to lie flat on a table. Safety straps will secure you. The table will be raised slowly until it is in an upright position. This change in position mimics the change from lying down to standing up. You may stay in this position for 5-45 minutes. This depends on the reason for the test.
    During this change in position, the doctor will monitor your blood pressure and heart rate. While upright, you will need to stay as still as possible. A nurse or doctor will ask you how you feel throughout the test. You may faint during the test or feel like you are going to faint. If this happens, the table will be returned to the horizontal. If you do not pass out, you may be given a medicine called nitroglycerin. This can aid with the diagnosis.

    After Test

    You will be able to go home after the test. You should be able to resume your usual activities.

    How Long Will It Take?

    About 90 minutes

    Will It Hurt?

    You may feel sick or lightheaded. You may also feel that your heart is racing as if you were about to pass out. If so, tell your doctor. You may feel some discomfort where the IV is placed in your arm.

    Results

    You should get the results the day of the test. The results will help show the condition that has caused the fainting. If you faint or have other symptoms during the test, you may have a condition that causes abnormal changes in your blood pressure or heart rate, like:
    • Postural hypotension (a form of low blood pressure)
    • Heart problems
    • Vasovagal syncope (triggers a sudden drop in blood pressure and/or heart rate during stress)
    If you do not faint during the test, you may need more tests.

    Call Your Doctor

    After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
    • Light headedness
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Racing heart (palpitations)
    • Blurred vision
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Leg or arm weakness

    RESOURCES

    American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php/

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca/

    References

    Carson-DeWitt R. Fainting. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated January 27, 2010. Accessed May 20, 2010.

    Cleveland Clinic. Head upright tilt test. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/services/tests/electrocard/hut.aspx . Accessed May 20, 2010.

    DynaMed Editors. Syncope evaluation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated May 14, 2010. Accessed May 20, 2010.

    Mayo Clinic. Tilt table test. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tilt-table-test/MY01091 . Accessed May 20, 2010.

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