Tilt Table Testing
(Head-Up Tilt Table Test [HUT]; Passive Head-Up Tilt Test; Upright Tilt
During a tilt table test, a person lies on a table. The
table is then tilted from a horizontal to a vertical
position. The person’s heart rate and blood pressure are
monitored throughout the test.
Blood Flow to the Brain
Fainting may be due to decreased
blood flow to the brain.
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Reasons for Test
This is done to help diagnose the cause of unexplained
fainting (syncope). The test attempts to reproduce the
conditions that may cause you to faint.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
You may be asked not to eat or drink for 2 to 4
hours before the test. Take any medicines as
usual, unless your doctor tells you not to. Wear
Description of Test
Electrodes (sticky patches attached to
wires) will be placed on your chest,
legs, and arms. These patches connect
you to an electrocardiogram (ECG). This
is a device that monitors your heart
rate. Next, a blood pressure cuff will
be placed on your arm to monitor your
blood pressure. An IV will be placed
into a vein in your arm or the back of
your hand. This will allow the doctor to
take a blood sample and to deliver
medicines (if needed).
You will be asked to lie flat on a table. Safety
straps will secure you. The table will be raised
slowly until it is in an upright position. This
change in position mimics the change from lying
down to standing up. You may stay in this
position for 5 to 45 minutes. This depends on
the reason for the test. During
this change in position, the doctor will monitor
your blood pressure and heart rate. While
upright, you will need to stay as still as
possible. A nurse or doctor will ask you how you
feel throughout the test. You may faint during
the test or feel like you are going to faint. If
this happens, the table will be returned to the
horizontal. If you do not pass out, you may be
given a medicine called nitroglycerin. This can
aid with the diagnosis.
You will be able to go home after the
test. You should be able to resume your
Will It Hurt?
You may feel sick or lightheaded. You
may also feel that your heart is racing
as if you were about to pass out. If so,
tell your doctor. You may feel some
discomfort where the IV is placed in
You should get the results the day of the test. The
results will help show the condition that has caused the
fainting. If you faint or have other symptoms during the
test, you may have a condition that causes abnormal
changes in your blood pressure or heart rate, like:
Postural hypotension (a form of low
Vasovagal syncope (triggers a sudden
drop in blood pressure and/or heart rate
If you do not faint during the test, you may need more
Call Your Doctor
After the test, call your doctor if any of the following
Nausea and vomiting
Racing heart (palpitations)
Shortness of breath
Leg or arm weakness
American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php/
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca/
Carson-DeWitt R. Fainting. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated January 27, 2010.
Accessed May 20, 2010.
Cleveland Clinic. Head upright tilt test. Cleveland Clinic website.
. Accessed May 20, 2010.
DynaMed Editors. Syncope evaluation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available
at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated May 14, 2010.
Accessed May 20, 2010.
Mayo Clinic. Tilt table test. Mayo Clinic website. Available at:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tilt-table-test/MY01091 . Accessed May
Reviewer: David N. Smith, MD
Review Date: 06/2012
Update Date: 00/60/2012