To begin the test you will lie flat on the tilt table, it is possible that the room will be dark. After your healthcare providers have checked your blood pressure and ekg reading for a few minutes you will be tilted head-up like you are lying on a steep hill. Your blood pressure and ekg will be monitored for about five minutes in this position.
From here you will be tilted head-up again. This may feel as though you are standing on the footboard at the bottom of the table. Your heart rhythm, rate, and blood pressure are watched closely again for about 45 minutes. This extended period of time is important because many patients with syncope develop a sudden drop in their blood pressure after 30 minutes. Your healthcare team will remain quiet during this 45 minute period because talking with you may disturb the measurements of your ekg and blood pressure.
You may faint due to a rapid change in your blood pressure and heart rate. However, if this happens, your healthcare team will immediately return the table to a lying flat position and your blood flow will return and wake you up. Patients who do faint are usually only out for a few seconds and wake up as they are being lowered to the horizontal position.
If the tilt table test does not reproduce your symptoms of dizziness or fainting, a drug that lowers your blood pressure may be given through your IV. After the drug has been given you will be tilted head-up again. You will be observed for about 15 minutes. If you still are not dizzy and have not fainted, the table will be returned to the flat position. It is possible that this will be repeated a third time.
Because it is very important to figure out exactly what kind of problem you have the test will not usually be stopped until either you faint or the designated time has been reached, which is usually one hour.