• The Heart House

Tilt Table Test

A tilt table test is extremely valuable in diagnosing fainting and autonomic disorders. If you have been told by your doctor that you need a tilt table test, please read the following information carefully.

Before the test:

  • Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes (t-shirt and comfortable bottoms) to wear during the test.
  • If you are taking any beta blockers or anxiety medications, you may be asked to discontinue these the night before your test. If you are unsure, please ask the doctor. 
  • Avoid any large meals up to 4 hours before the test.

Case Study:

16 year old Jenny was advised by her doctor to get a Tilt Up Table test because she was having frequent fainting episodes.

How is the Tilt Table Test conducted?

The patient lays on their back on a table and is then strapped to the table by two straps: one across the pelvis and another across the knees. The reason for the straps is to prevent the patient from falling and to prevent body movement during the test.

After recording measurements in the reclined position the table is tilted up to 70 to 80 degrees in a near standing position.

What is being monitored?

While the patient is still in the flat position on the table, heart electrodes are placed across the chest to record the heart rate and heart wave (electrocardiogram). Also, the blood pressure is usually obtained by a cuff pressure or by placing an arterial line.

Continuous minute-to-minute blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation are recorded.

What happens during the test?

A very important aspect of the test is what is happening to the patient in relation to what is shown on the monitor. For example, if the patient is complaining of lightheadedness or dizziness, we look at the monitor and see that the blood pressure is dipping down, and we know that dizziness is caused by the blood pressure dipping down. We ask the patient at the time when the symptoms occur, if these symptoms were experienced before in real life.

What is a positive test?

If the patient faints or is very close to fainting.

Any paradoxical relation between blood pressure and heart rate, e.g. the heart rate drops while the blood pressure is dropping.

The cardiologist may be anticipating a certain response to correlate with the patient's pre-stated symptoms.

How long does it last?

The Tilt up Table Test lasts about 45 minutes standing at 70 to 80 degrees.

Is this a safe test?

This is a very safe test because we are trying to understand what is happening to the patient in real life in a very controlled environment. Your child may faint on the street, and there would be no one around to help. Here in the hospital doctors are present and if your child is close to fainting the table will be eased back to a lying position, consciousness is regained, and there is no risk of body injury.

We have conducted over 300 Tilt Table Tests and have not had a single complication.

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Contact Us

Children's Heart Institute

P. O. Box 10066 McLean, VA 22102

Central Registration (patient appointments):

phone - 703-481-5801

Billing Inquiries:

phone - 571-612-2600 /  fax - 571-266-4096