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Tilt Table Test

Diagnosing the reasons for constant fainting and dizziness through the Tilt Table Test

There are many people who constantly experience heart symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness or fainting. Though this may seem trivial, they can be dangerous especially if the patient is working in any rough work environments or high altitudes. In order to monitor and determine the cause of such symptoms, a tilt table test is generally used. This procedure is non-invasive and is very efficient because of its simple and straightforward approach in tackling the problem.
Tilt table tests are used extensively to detect a phenomenon in the patients known as postural hypotension. Generally, when a person stands upright, the force of gravity causes pooling of blood near the legs.

However, a healthy human body counteracts this effect by constricting the veins. This usually pushes the blood upwards and to the heart. However, in some cases, reasons such as poor nerve tone may not bring about this desired effect leading to shortage of blood supply to the brain and other parts of the body. This phenomenon causes the feeling of light-headedness or dizziness.


The general procedure and protocols followed in a tilt table test

In terms of the procedure, the patient first lies down on a specially designed table used to conduct such tests. While monitoring the heart rate and the blood pressure of the patient, the table is tilted vertically upwards such that the patient lies with his/her head upwards. By monitoring the conditions of the patient when the table is tilted upwards, the doctors will be able to measure the cardiovascular changes or other variations in the patient. This can be further used to diagnose the problem and take the appropriate measures to stop them in the future.

Commonly, a tilt table test is used to determine the cause of syncope in a patient. In order to get the best results from the procedure,the patient is advised to fast for a few hours up to the procedure and avoid any medications that may interfere with the treatments.

However, it is imperative to consult your doctor before deciding to stop any regular medication. Straps are then adjusted to hold the patient in place. The heart rate and the blood pressure of the patient is also monitored via ECG. Sometimes, additional drugs are administered to the patient in order to better analyse the results of the test. The test can be carried out over a period of 20-40 minutes and is usually stopped when the patient faints or experiences any other symptoms such as muscle pain, etc.

Due to its simple and non-invasive nature, the patient will be normal at the end of the test and is free to go about his/her regular routine. The results can then be studied by the concerned doctors and the appropriate treatments are adopted for the patient.

What are the common risks associated with tilt table tests?

As it is a non-invasive procedure, there are no major risks or side effects associated with it. However, it may induce the desired effect of dizziness in the patient when the blood accumulates or pools in the legs. This can further result in irregular heartbeats, variation in blood pressure, nausea, etc. In some extreme cases, the test can even provoke a heart attack in the subject. However, as the pros fairly outweigh the cons, this test is used extensively around the world.