Tilt Table Testing

A tilt table test is used to evaluate the cause of unexplained fainting (syncope).

Your doctor may recommend a tilt table test if you’ve had repeated, unexplained episodes of fainting. A tilt table test may also be appropriate to investigate the cause of fainting if you’ve fainted only once, but another episode would put you at high risk of injury due to your work environment, medical history, age or other factors.

For a tilt table test, you begin by lying flat on a table. Straps are put around your body to hold you in place. After about 15 minutes of lying flat, the table is quickly tilted to raise your body to a head-up position — simulating a change in position from lying down to standing up.

The table will then remain upright for up to 45 minutes, while your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored. This allows doctors to evaluate your body’s cardiovascular response to the change in position.

Syncope, or fainting, may be caused by various medical problems. Syncope may occur rarely to frequently, depending on the cause. Some causes of syncope may include:

  • Vasovagal syndrome (also called neurocardiogenic syncope). This is a sudden drop in blood pressure with or without a decrease in heart rate. It’s caused by a problem of the nerves that control the heart and blood vessels.
  • Arrhythmia. This is when a heart rate is too slow, too fast, or is irregular. When this happens, the heart can’t get enough blood flow to the body.
  • Structural heart disease (problems of the heart muscle or valves). Enlargement of the heart muscle or malfunction of one or more of the heart valves may block blood flow within the heart.
  • Heart attack (also called myocardial infarction or MI). This is damage to the heart muscle due to insufficient blood supply.
  • Ventricular dysfunction. This is a weakness or failure of the pumping function of the ventricles (the heart’s major pumping chambers.

There may be other reasons for your doctor to advise a tilt table procedure.

Click here for the Tilt Table Testing Instructions