Why is a tilt-table exam done?

Tilt tests are especially useful if you have been fainting without any explanation. These tests help doctors understand how your body posture affects your blood pressure. The goal is to find out if different drugs or different body positions will trigger an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) or symptoms.

What to expect

In this test, you are asked to lie on a special bed that can be tilted to different positions. You will be safely strapped in. Your heart and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the test. An IV (an intravenous line or tube) is put into a vein in your arm so you can receive different drugs during the test. Then, the bed you are lying on is tilted, so that you go from a reclining position to an almost upright one. At the same time, you may be given drugs through the IV. Some of these medications may cause side effects such as stomach ache, nausea, light-headedness or a rapid heartbeat. These effects do not last long. Your reactions will often help your doctor pinpoint the exact cause of your arrhythmia. The test varies by patient and usually lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

How to prepare

Your doctor will talk to you about what you can eat and drink before the test. He or she will also tell you if and how to adjust any medications you may be taking. It is best to check with the centre where you are having your test for specific information about how to prepare.