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The tilt table test measures how your blood pressure and heart rate respond to the force of gravity. During the test, you lie on a table that is slowly tilted upward. A nurse or technician keeps track of your blood pressure and heart rate (pulse) to see how they change during the test.
The test is normal if your average blood pressure stays stable as the table tilts upward and your heart rate increases by a normal amount.
If your blood pressure drops and stays low during the test, you may feel faint or feel lightheaded. That may mean your brain is not getting enough blood during the tilt. Your heart rate may not be adapting as the table tilts upward, or your blood vessels may not be squeezing hard enough to support your blood pressure.
If you have been feeling any of these symptoms, your doctor may recommend a tilt-table test:
Doctors may recommend a tilt-table test for patients they suspect may have:
The purpose of a tilt table test is to help determine the cause of severe dizziness or blackouts. Do not eat or drink anything after the midnight before the procedure. Your doctor will discuss with you which medications you can or cannot take on the day of the test. Wear comfortable clothing with a separate top and bottom.
The first part of the test shows how your body responds when you change positions.
The second part of the test shows how your body responds to a medicine that causes your heart to beat faster.
The tilt-table test can last about 90 minutes if you do both parts of it. If you only do the first part, you may be done in 30 to 40 minutes. After recovery, most people can drive home and return to their normal activities.
You may get your results as soon as the test is over. If your blood pressure does not fall during the test, and you have no other symptoms, the test results are negative (normal). If your blood pressure drops during the test and you feel faint or dizzy, the test is positive. Your doctor may suggest changing your medicines or having more tests. Your doctor may recommend a pacemaker if your fainting is due to a slow heart rate (bradycardia).
Presbyterian’s Heart and Vascular team has many different options to help you manage your heart condition. The team performs various diagnostic tests and procedures to help form an accurate diagnosis and create individualized treatment plans for your heart health needs. Depending on the type of heart condition you have and its underlying cause, the team can recommend a wide variety of treatment options, including lifestyle modifications, medications, and procedures. Our cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons work closely together for cases in which surgery is the best treatment option. We also offer a customized cardiac rehabilitation program at our Healthplex, where clinically appropriate, which can improve your endurance and exercise tolerance, as well as improve heart-related symptoms. Your cardiologist will work with the rehabilitation team to create a plan that will be tailored to your individual health needs.