A tilt table test is used to try to recreate the syncopal episodes you
have at home. Basically, what your doctor is trying to find out is what is making you pass out, or why you have problems standing.
He/she wants to know if this is due to blood pressure drops and/or arrythmias.
Be prepared for it to be cold in the lab where you will have your test
done. Make sure you tell the technician if you are sensitive to the cold, many times they will get you an extra blanket so
you are as comfortable as possible.
You will be instructed to lie on what looks like a normal hospital examining
table. The technician will hook up electrodes for your EKG, put a blood pressure cuff on one or both arms, and slip a cuff
on your finger to measure your oxygen levels. You will be strapped to the table across your chest and legs. Most labs also
insert an IV in case it becomes neccessary to give you fluids or medications after your test.
After all this is done, they tilt the table so you are in almost a standing
position. You are not supposed to talk or move around much... I would stick to this as talking and moving can raise your blood
pressure and cause you to have to stand there for a longer period of time. Just let what happens happen, and try not to get
The test is not actually painful, and it is non-invasive. They are trying
to make you sick though, so you may have some tingling in your extremities,ringing in your ears,whiteouts, anything that would
normally happen to you when you have an episode.
Keep telling yourself that it will not last forever, as soon as they
catch something on one of the monitors, it will all be over. The longest I have personally heard of someone lasting during
a tilt is 45 minutes, most do not last nearly that long!
Once you show signs and symptoms, whether in your blood pressure or
heart rate, the test is nearly over. They need to record a certain drop in BP (at least 20 points) to make it a positive tilt.
Then the table is dropped back down to a level position, and you are
invited to recover!
I am sure you will want to go home as soon as you can, but do not rush!
Take your time getting up and make sure you are steady on your feet before you try to walk away. Many labs will offer
you a drink while you recover, you should take it!