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Tilt-Table Testing Periprocedural Care

  • Author: James V Talano, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Karlheinz Peter, MD, PhD  more...
Updated: Mar 17, 2016

Patient Education & Consent

Discuss the test findings with both the patient and a companion to increase proper understanding of the results.

Patient Instructions

To avoid dehydration on the day of the study in patients who have been NPO after midnight, or receiving diuretic therapy, infuse 250 mL of 0.9% saline prior to tilt testing. Administer IV saline cautiously in patients with heart failure or renal failure.

Hold all medications the night before the procedure and in the morning to increase the sensitivity of the study. However, if diuretic or antihypertensive medications are a suspected etiology of syncopal episodes, allow the patient to take medications as usual the morning of the procedure.



Equipment/personnel should be as follows:[7]

  • Tilt table
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Heart rate monitor
  • ECG rhythm monitor
  • Oxygen saturation monitor
  • Crash cart with defibrillator available
  • Infusion pumps
  • Quiet, air conditioned room
  • Soft background music (optional)
  • Direct physician supervision and nurse or trained technician assistance

Patient Preparation


Anesthesia is not to be used for this procedure. The patient must remain alert and awake to detect the moment of unconsciousness.


See the Technique section.


Monitoring & Follow-up

Discharge patient to home if blood pressure and heart rate are back to baseline and patient is not symptomatic.

Advise patient not to drive for 2 hours after the procedure.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

James V Talano, MD, MBA MM, FACC, FAHA, Director of Cardiovascular Medicine, SWICFT Institute

James V Talano, MD, MBA is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Cardiology, Heart Failure Society of America, Society of Geriatric Cardiology, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, American College of Chest Physicians, American Association for Physician Leadership, American College of Physicians, American Heart Association, American Society of Echocardiography

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Janet K Sparker, MS, PA-C Assistant Professor, Southwest Florida Physician Assistant Program, Nova Southeastern University; Physician Assistant, Certified, Private Cardiology Practice of James V Talano, MD, Southwest Institute of Cardiovascular Fitness and Testing

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Karlheinz Peter, MD, PhD Professor of Medicine, Monash University; Head of Centre of Thrombosis and Myocardial Infarction, Head of Division of Atherothrombosis and Vascular Biology, Associate Director, Baker Heart Research Institute; Interventional Cardiologist, The Alfred Hospital, Australia

Karlheinz Peter, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Heart Association, German Cardiac Society, Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Dr Fredrick Jaeger, Director, Cardiac Arrhythmia Monitoring Lab, Medical Director, Syncope Center, Cleveland Clinic to the development and writing of this article.

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Patient undergoing upright tilt-table testing.
Tilt-table test.
Table 1. European Society of Cardiology 2009 Indications for Tilt-Table Testing [3]
Recommendations Class level
Tilt table is indicated in the case of an unexplained single syncopal episode in high-risk settings (eg, occurrence of, or potential risk of physical injury or with occupational implications)or recurrent episodes in the absence of organic heart disease, after cardiac causes of syncope have been excluded I B
Tilt testing is indicated when it is of clinical value to demonstrate susceptibility to reflex syncope to the patient I C
Tilt testing should be considered to discriminate between reflex and orthostatic hypotensive syncope IIa C
Tilt testing may be considered for differentiating syncope with jerking movement from epilepsy IIb C
Tilt testing may be indicated for evaluating patients with recurrent unexplained falls IIb C
Tilt testing may be indicated for evaluating patients with frequent syncope and psychiatric disease IIb C
Tilt testing is not recommended for assessment of treatment III B
Isoproterenol tilt testing is contraindicated in patients with ischemic heart disease III C
Table 1. Classification of Positive Responses to Tilt Testing [9]
Type 1 -


Heart rate falls at the time of syncope, but the ventricular rate does not fall to less than 40 beats/min-1 or falls to less 40 beats/min-1 for less than 10 s with or without asystole of less than 3 s. Blood pressure falls before the heart rate falls.
Type 2 -


A) Cardioinhibition without asystole: heart rate falls to a ventricular rate less than 40 beats/min-1 for more than 10 s, but asystole of more than 3 s does not occur before the heart rate falls.

B) Cardioinhibition with asystole: Asystole occurs for more than 3 s. Blood pressure falls with or occur before the heart rate fall.

Type 3 -


Heart rate does not fall more than 10% from its peak at the time of syncope.
  Exception 1. Chronotropic incompetence: No heart rate rise during the tilt testing (ie, less than 10% from the pre-tilt rate).
  Exception 2. Excessive heart rate rise: An excessive heart rate both at the onset of the position and throughout its duration before syncope (ie, greater than 130 beats/min-1).
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