The tilt table test is done in order to evaluate blood pressure or arrhythmia as well as the heart rate. This article is a brief overview of the tilt table test.
The tilt table test is also referred to as a passive head-up tilt test and head upright tilt test. A tilt table test generally records the blood pressure and any kind of rhythm abnormalities of the heart. The heart rate is also evaluated on the basis of each beat. All three factors can be assessed in several different positions of the heart. Patients suffering from unknown causes of fainting and light-headedness as well as syncope may be suggested to go for a tilt table test in order to frame a proper treatment modality as well as a management strategy.
In addition to the tilt table test, several other diagnostic tests and assessments may be suggested to get a more clear idea of the underlying condition. Syncope, a regularly manifested clinical symptom of several causes, one of them being unknown, refers to the loss of consciousness that is for a short term, due to the absence or sudden decrease in the blood being flown to the brain. These alterations in the blood flow may be due to abnormal blood pressure or underlying cardiovascular or neurological conditions.
The tilt table test generally takes around ninety minutes to be successfully completed. The healthcare provider should be informed prior to the scheduling of a tilt table test in case the patient is undergoing treatment for diabetes, water retention, allergies, a list of all the drugs the patient is currently on, or if the patient simply does not feel up to the mark.
A regular diet can be followed the evening before the commencement of the tilt table test. It is generally suggested to avoid eating or drinking approximately four hours before the test is scheduled. Resuming a normal diet after the test is allowed and encouraged. During the test, the patient is supposed to wear loose-fitting or comfortable clothing.
Generally, the tilt table test is conducted in specific labs at the hospital setup called a cardiology laboratory. The healthcare provider is supposed to explain the entire test in great detail so that there is no doubt remaining in the patient’s mind. It is also advised to inform the healthcare provider in case the patient is not able to withstand their weight of more than or equal to one hundred and forty-seven kilograms without any support or help.
Mentioned below is the sequence of activities conducted during a tilt table test.
The patient is asked to lie on the tilt table platform which is a table that runs on motors and has a footrest of metal for the feet to stay put. Velcro bands are tied across the patient’s body. The patient is asked to manage their weight throughout the test as well.
The cuffs to measure blood pressure are placed around the arms and an intravenous cannula is inserted in a vein of the hand. The blood pressure machine is regulated throughout the test and blood pressure readings are recorded every four and ten minutes intervals.
Tiny patches are stuck to the heart to help during electrocardiography. These small patches are referred to as electrodes. They connect themselves to the electrocardiography machine and thus record the reading of the heart on paper in the form of several lines. Electrocardiography is continuously done during a tilt table test in order to have a piece of constant information on the heart’s rhythm, heart rate, and the normal functioning of the heart in different positions on the tilt table.
During a tilt table test, the motorized table is tilted to several different degrees for a maximum of three minutes. The different degrees in order of being set are thirty degrees, forty-five degrees, and seventy degrees. The patient is always upright during the entire test. The patient is advised not to make any sudden movements during the test and should inform the nurse or the present healthcare provider, if they are facing any form of discomfort or uneasiness.
Being still and put in the test will help in getting a more accurate picture of the cardiovascular system and thus will help in the correct diagnosis of the present condition. This will eventually aid the healthcare provider to come up with the best management plan to correct all the present clinical manifestations.
Symptoms such as unexplained episodes of fainting, unexplained lightheadedness, and frequent episodes of syncope are the reasons why a healthcare provider may suggest a tilt table test. Blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythm are a few of the features of the cardiovascular system that are evaluated throughout the test. In case the patient faints or goes into a blackout, the result of the tilt table test is positive. On the other hand, in case there are only slight alterations in blood pressure with no other significant deviation in the cardiovascular reading, the result of the test is negative. Depending on the severity of the signs and symptoms as well as the result of the test, the healthcare provider will explain the treatment plan after the correct diagnosis of the condition.
Last reviewed at:
06 Oct 2022 - 3 min read
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