Tilt Table Test

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The idea of knowing you’re going to have one of these can be pretty scary!  You don’t know how this may effect you symptom wise, and no one likes being forced to be at their sickest.  So I’m doing a quick run down of my tilt table test experience so you have a little idea of what to expect.  Different hospitals do it all a little differently, but it’s all basically the same, and looking for the same ending result.  If you’re reading this, and your experience has been different, please post what was different below so readers will have more of an idea!  Also, when on the tilt, people’s bodies react differently, this was strictly what happened to me.

To prepare, I was told not to eat or drink anything 12 hours before the test.

I was brought in and laid on a regular hospital bed.  I was given two IV’s.  One, to draw blood from, which they do once I’ve been there lying for a while, and the second one is to inject you with an adrenalin boost to get your symptoms going, if they don’t on their own when your doing the test.

tilt table test

They wheel me into this other room that’s pretty big and all these interns are running around.  It seems a little uncomfortable at first, but they are more interested in what comes up on the computer, than what you yourself is acting like.  Just ignore them.

You’ll be moved over to this big gray metal bed, but your bedding goes with you, and is a lot more comfortable then it looks.  They put the electrodes on you and the blood pressure monitor, so they can watch your blood pressure and heart rate.  The machine was to my left, so I was able to watch it too.

I had little straps that looked like small car seat belts brought across my thighs and upper chest.  There’s a little give, but tight enough so that if you do end up fainting, you won’t fall and hurt yourself.  I was still able to move a little bit behind them, so it didn’t feel constricting.

Then they slowly raise you up so you are in standing position.  I did not need the adrenalin boost in the IV because mine soared from the moment I was placed upward.  I was in no pain, but I became very emotional quickly which is very common when your adrenalin goes high on its own.  I got a little teary eyed at first, and then after a couple minutes I was back to normal.

I became very weak and dizzy, but never fainted on the tilt table.  I felt very out of sorts, the way we do if we are standing normally, but I found personally, because I had the table behind me, I didn’t feel as bad as I could have, because I had something holding me up instead of my just free standing like usual.

Once I had been up about 30 minutes, they took more blood work out of the first IV.  I have a problem with doctors getting a vein let alone a lot of blood coming into the vials… but with my blood pooling from the test, the blood work went great for once.  Now I have a new trick if the doctor’s are having a problem with getting it.  Just stand up!

After about forty five minutes I was slowly laid back down into a laying position.  The straps were removed, and I was moved back onto my hospital bed, and rolled back into the other room where I had to rest for a half hour.  At the hospital I went to, they do this because if you had the adrenalin boost, they want to make sure you are recovering from it okay.  Since I didn’t have it, I didn’t have to wait as long.

A doctor comes in, and tells you the results.   Usually an intern, and then the Cardiologist will come in and tell you if your have POTS, and to drink lots of water, get up slowly, and eat more salt.  Usually you will get a prescription then too if you are diagnosed.  And then I was sent home!

Like I said, little things are done differently in different hospitals, and depending on how your body reacts on the tilt table.  Some doctors try to keep you there until you faint, some will bring you up and down continuously on the table to try to worsen symptoms.

If you have any questions, or any variations to the tilt table test you received, please post below!

35 thoughts on “Tilt Table Test

  1. My experience was different, and not in a good way when it came to getting accurate results and expert advice on how to better manage my dysautonomia symptoms.

    1) I had eaten lunch about an hour before my test and I had coffee in the morning. I also wasn’t taken off my beta-blocker for several days before the test. It is for all these reasons that I am going for a second evaluation with a different doctor in a few months, because I do not think I was prepped properly.

    2) I had a sweat test and a deep breathing test done before the tilt table test. I actually almost passed out from the sweat test, which I though was significant, but the MD did not.

    3) I was raised suddenly and quickly from laying to standing and remained in the position for about 10-15 minutes. I felt a little dizzy and weak initially, but my body seems to compensate–perhaps because I was on my beta-blocker. During the test, I had some fluctuations in my blood pressure, but only modest changes in my heart rate. But again, I don’t think I was prepped for the procedure properly (see 1.)

    4) Because my test results were only marginally abnormal, the most disappointing part was not getting a lot of recommendations and suggestions for managing my symptoms better, which is why I went for this consultation and agreed to this test.

    Wish me better luck next time…

    • ty for sharing your experience! I agree, that they didn’t have you prepped properly, which is sad bc it’s not like we want to have a second one done! I hope the next one goes better than the last!

  2. Lance

    I just had a tilt table test done today 2/23/11. at 11am first off my blood pressure was 155/101 second bp, 170/103, third 173/102.
    They strapped me in put in IV then stood me upto 70 degrees for several min. then they started the IV to make my heart rate go up to see if they could reproduce the same effects that i have as an out- patient. this went on for i think 15 min. i could tell my heart rate went up tingling in fingers ect… got light headed but, did not pass out, black out, ect. but i did feel light headed like i was going to but didnt.
    after like 35 min. they stopped the test and the doctor told me everything looked normal…
    I have had these ” Events ” as i call them .for 10 years + i have admitted myself to 3 different hospitals and get pretty much the same results. i have had (halter monitors, EEG’s, doppler , echo, ultra sound. ) done and it seems that everytime i have a test its like my symptoms disappear. and when i return home within 1 /2 days i have an ” Event ” like clock work.
    the doctor said if i wanted to persue this further to contact him and he would possibly order another EEG,Monitor, Ect… but i have been there done that.
    he also said even tho he cannot diagnose me POTS he could still treat me as if i have POTS and perscribe me medication for it. Now whats that saying about the tests & Procedures they do?
    i cannot afford to go to the doctor without insurance & since i have not been diagnosed with anything i cannot get medicare/medicaid without a diagnosis???
    Please Help Anyone ???
    Thanks for your time…..
    What i would like to know is ? What is the next step i have heard that the tilt table test is not completely fool proof and there are other tests to perform but what are they? I fear for my own lif As well as others around me , God forbid i have an ‘”Event” in my Car it would not be good…

    • I just saw this and I’m sorry I didn’t get to you more quickly! I agree, my body always tends to be more agreeable at the doctors then at home! Which was why it took me 7 years to get diagnosed. To have an accurate diagnosis your heart rate has to raise from laying to standing, 30 beats per minute higher within I believe 15 minutes of standing. You can, when you feel an episode, do the poor man’s tilt, and do it at home and bring your findings with you to the doctor (make sure you have someone close by at home to catch you if you fall!) But you are not getting the benefit of a doctor seeing it first hand,nor are they getting the blood work results. BUT if your doctor is still willing to treat you and you have seen first hand it doing the pots dance, I think you should get his help. I was put on monitors too and they didn’t catch anything at all so I don’t believe they do too much either.. I have a page full of tips for potsies on here and they’ve really helped me for things you can do at home. ashleypauls@hotmail.com if you want to email me personally, just put word press or pots or something so i recognize it in the junk mail folder. Best of luck!

    • Alexa

      How old are you if you don’t mind me asking. I have POTS as well and I am 16. I am doing a research math paper on POTS numbers between adults and teens. If I could use your numbers you mentioned here that would be awesome! I won’t use your name, I am just using the numbers to compare! Thanks (:

  3. linzm

    I am 14 and have just gotten diagnosed with POTS and RLS. It stemmed from a head injury in ’09 went away in ’10 and came back to get me this year. I’ve gotten a thousand times worse. Luckily, I CAN still play volleyball and function to go to school. Which I know is pretty impressive.
    I have pretty much every symptom of POTS. (Lightheadedness, dizzy, tired, chest pains, tremors, chronic daily headaches, I am super sensitive to heat and cold. Our family jokes around that I have a wacked out indoor thermometer.) I drink 6-7 water bottles on average per day and eat sooo much salt… I constantly crave it. We’ve been dealing with this for not too long but we got tipped off about dysautonomia somehow and looked into it. Then we started taking my pulse when I was standing for awhile and felt like crap. It was high. I saw both neurology groups in my city (a rather large one at that) and neither thought of POTS. Discouraged, we did a little at home experiment. I was sitting on the couch on a horrible day and took my pulse. It was 66 bpm. I stood and took it right away. 108. Then I waited 5 mins and took it again. 114. Another 5 mins and it was 126. Thats a 66 beat difference! All it took was one look from a neurologist at Mayo to say I had POTS based on that. To be diagnosed with POTS I’ve heard anywhere from a 20-30 bpm jump in 10 mins, I did not do a table test.

    • wow it’s crazy they didn’t have you do a tilt test, but nice too that they didn’t put you through it! i’m sorry you’re so young and feeling so sick! they say the younger you are being diagnosed, the more likely you are to grow out of it, so hopefully that will be the case! i’m glad to see you can still do some of the things you love like volleyball!!!

  4. Geneva

    I had a Tilt Table Test yesterday and it was sooo incredibly hard!
    My test was at 3PM (even though my symptoms are a million times worse in the morning) I was told nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours prior to the test 1.5 hours before the test i forgot and has a cup of water…Grr
    They laid me on the table and strapped me down and put a BP cuff on both arms and tested my BP and they put an IV in but just the saline lock for the meds they would give later. They also put a 12 lead on me to measure my HR.
    Then they stood the table up and told me I could not move my legs or feet at all and that I would be standing there for 45 min or until I faint.
    Oh man! Immediately my HR went way up and stayed between 119 and 143. It went up to 143ish then back down to 119ish in cycles that correlated with symptoms from me of hyperventilation. I also had intermittent heart flutters and palpitations. It was so uncomfortable and at 12 min I just wanted to quit, but I kept going. My BP remained pretty steady but fluctuated between 97ish/57ish to 111ish/72ish. I felt as if I were running a marathon even though I was just standing still.
    After 45 min they laid me down for 5 min and let me stretch which is great since my feet and hands were purple and swollen from all of the blood pooling!
    Then they put the Iso stuff in my IV to make my heart rate increase and stood me back up for 15 more min. My hands went numb (ants crawling and all) pretty much immediately and they said that was from the meds and my HR fluctuated between 143 and 175ish, but it was much easier for me to stand that time because I didn’t feel the constant hyperventilation! I did have some dizziness and sweating this time with some breathlessness.
    I felt as if they thought everything that was happening with me was normal, but it is NOT normal to be standing leaning against a table at that and feeling as if I were running a marathon with breathlessness and heart palpitations and flutters and a very high heart rate!!! They said it usually takes a week for the test results to be ready! Will let you know what they say.

    • Make sure to let me know how it turned out! Very strange, but love hearing other people’s experiences going through it, bc depending on the hospital, they do it differently everywhere! I was told the results within minutes of being done the test and back to a normal bed. I wasn’t given anything to up my HR thankfully! They said they didn’t though bc I was screwy enough without out it lol. Glad it’s finally over with and you can hopefully get on with getting actually taken care of and healed as best they can!! *hugs*

  5. yeo8a@yahoo.com

    Around 4 months ago
    i was driving and suddenly i feel really extrane it was like some put my hand, arms in a bucket of water with ice, my heart was heating so fast that in feltni was losing concience, i started having problems with my vision . everything was so fast until finally i could pull over and try to call someone to let them know where and what was happening to me.. i was skacking and sweting so was very difficult to use muy phone.. whivh increase more my anxiety. I went
    to
    the neurologist just finished the Tilt test, I was very anxious what to expect during the test. I was simplicity afraide to feel again the episode, I know it could be the best so they could help me, but at rhe same time

    • It’s very scary to think of putting yourself through something like that again, but my case I felt it was worth it. I was also upright on the table, but I felt myself leaning back almost against it, so I didn’t feel my symptoms so extreme as I normally would have. Driving can be very scary for a potsy!

  6. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running
    off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The layout look great though! Hope you get the
    problem resolved soon. Cheers

  7. Millie Shultz

    I had the tilt table test in December 2012. I had been having near faint symptons. Because of the BP monitor and the EKG I could see what was happening. My BP was going up and then my heart rate slowed down and I blacked out at 10 minutes without getting dizzy or seeing spots or hearing a buzz. I was shocked that it happened so quickly.
    I now realize I have had this for many years without knowing what it was cause the episodes were so far apart.
    There is a support group on Facebook now: Living with Vasovegal Syncope and it is a real help. Lots support and suggestions on what to look for in triggers and how to deal with them.

  8. Bobbie

    2 months ago while grocery shopping, I felt all of the sudden like I was going to faint. My husband got me seated and immediately I started seizing. During the seizure I suffered a posterior dislocation and multiple fractures of my right shoulder. I have never had anything like this happen before. In the ambulance they said my blood sugar was 47 (very low). I had breakfast a couple of hours earlier. The search for the cause has been ongoing ever since.

    I’ve had CTs of brain, abdomen, echo, brain mri, eeg both short and ambulatory (48 hours), blood tests galore and nothing found but a pineal cyst in my brain that they feel has nothing to do with what happened to me.

    I had a tilt table test yesterday and have been searching to see if others had the same experience as I did. I had the chest leads and IV, but also had an arterial line put in my groin to constantly monitor blood pressure.

    They did put me up for a bit with no meds and I couldn’t see any stats so I have no idea if anything happened or not. Then they gave me something to make my body think it was exercising hard. This made me feel hot and racing heart and if I’d not been strapped to a table I would have wanted to sit down, but didn’t pass out.

    Then they gave me a nitro pill under my tongue and after a few more minutes gave me something else in the IV. Holy cow, after several minutes I felt so horrible. Pounding head and dizzy, sweating, lost control of bladder/bowels, threw up, cried. It was awful. Once I started throwing up they lowered the table. The Dr said my test was negative and is sending me back to Neuro for more follow up.

    I had to stay in the hospital flat on my back with no movement of my right leg for 4 hours and am limited to no exertion or lifting for the next 7 days due to the arterial line. The site is still quite sore today and the dressing can be removed this afternoon.

    Just wanted to share since I found this thread and maybe it will just make me feel a little better putting my thoughts in writing. Thanks to anyone reading this and I hope we can figure this out. Since this has happened my anxiety of it happening again is pretty much preventing me from feeling safe leaving my house.

    Thanks,

    Bobbie

    • I’m so sorry to hear you are having a hard time with this Bobbie! I was scared for a long time to do things, like walking outside alone, bc of passing out, etc. The anxiety we feel is partly real anxiety, but also bc when we stand, we get a huge rush of adrenalin coursing through our bodies, putting us into “fight or flight” syndrome. It’s our bodies way of trying to help us! The only thing with this is, it causes us to feel like we’re working our bodies a hundred times harder to do simple tasks, etc. and our bodies don’t know when to just calm down and relax! Did they not diagnose you right after the tilt table test? I was lucky to have the monitor facing me, so I could literally watch the numbers of my heart rate and blood pressure. Our blood pressure is known for going wonky and weird when standing, but to get a true diagnosis, they are only looking for a spike in the heart rate once going from laying to standing. I was also told right after that yes, I do have pots. I hope you find some answers soon, and keep me updated as to what the doctors say!!!

  9. All of this sounds about the same as mine except I didn’t get any IV’s stuck in me. they monitored me down, then up. when they put me back down they gave me a nitroglycerin tablet, then lifted me up. Withing 30 seconds I watched my heart rate go from 84-89 to as low as 29 then I was trying to pass out, but luckily they kept talking to me enough that I never went completely out. The heart specialist immediately diagnosed me with neurocardiogenic syncope…ever since 8/15/13, the passing out spells happen multiple times daily and after a period of time it seems as if now i’m having pooling of blood in my right thigh which is causing severe pain as well…my job took my insurance away in September bc of FMLA rules and crap, so I haven’t been able to see a neurologists like my cardiologists wanted me to bc I have no insurance. So it’s a struggle but, I couldn’t wish this on anyone!

    • A lot of people got the nitro tab but they said my body went too crazy without it, that it could have killed me. Though I pass out from pots, I didn’t faint on the table… almost felt like the bed behind me was holding me up so I could rest more than I would if I was just standing normally. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone either! I’m sorry you are having a hard time with working and insurance. It can and is for a lot of us, truly disabling and we don’t get the recognition for it that we need!

  10. Alexa

    I am 16 and I have POTS. I also have fibromyalgia as well. It is extremely hard juggling the two. Do you get severe migraines with your POTS? No doctor can figure it out because none of the medications work. I am on Flourinef but I don’t think it is helping. I also cannot take beta blockers. Any suggestions?
    Also, I am doing a research project for school on POTS between adults and teens with their heart rate numbers from when you go from laying to standing. If I can get ages and numbers from anyone that would be awesome!
    HELP!

    • I’m 31, but I got sick when I was 20. I would lay down with a heart rate of 90 bpm and stand w a heart rate usually around 135bpm. It would go higher if I was doing anything, up to 175, etc. bpm

      Why can you not take beta blockers? I had them make me very sick, but once I got a cardiologist who knew what they were doing, he had me fight the side effects, which were like having the flu for 3-4 months, and then I’d feel better… until I got on the right dose to keep my heart rate semi normal when I stood.

      I do not get migraines, but it’s very common for people with POTS to have them. I get bad head aches. There is a page on here that gives you tips for living with POTS.

  11. Jen

    I am searching for help. I have been having seizures and passing out. I had a tilt table test, and for the first part, I did fine, but for the second part, when they put the medicine under my tongue, the last thing I remember was the nurse telling me that my heart rate had reached 100, and then I was being woken up when nurses around me. They told me I went into a seizure, and when they were trying to lie me down, my blood pressure plummeted, and my heart stopped for 22 seconds. The doctor never came back in, but the nurse said that he was diagnosing me with vasovagal syncope. Since that time, I have had several episodes of rapid heart beat and extremely high blood pressure, when my blood pressure is normally very good. I notice during the episodes which sometimes last for days, I cannot swallow, so I am not able to increase salt and liquids as recommended, and I sleep a great deal. I am going back to my regular cardiologist on the 6th (this was at a specialist), but I am so confused about what is happening with me. I have never had problems before, and I don’t even know if I should be worried or not, when I should go to the ER, or if I should, or what to ask my doctor when I go back. Please help.

    • your card. might be able to help you, but I got a referral to a Neurologist to do testing on the nerves in my body to make sure there wasn’t anything physically wrong w me outside of the nervous system itself. Cardiologists tend to just want to deal with the heart rate and blood pressure. I have never had a seizer, but have talked w many potsys who have, so it isn’t normal, yet not uncommon either.

  12. Melissa Chandler

    I am a 38 year old active female. My tilt table test was performed at 8 am. I fasted prior to the test. I was connected to an Iv, but not given any medication. I passed out during the first phase of the tilt table test and the test was stopped.

  13. Amanda

    I had about the same thing happen except when I hit the 30 min. Mark the nurse(really nice, actually had a conversation with her) told me I might just need to drink more fluids and not even 3 minutes later I “passed out”. I put the quotes there because I could’ve sworn I was still conscious but they said I was completely out. After they started laying me back down my stomach started to squeeze pretty hard and I threw up stomach acid I guess because there was no food in there. My doctor wasn’t really there for the whole thing but he pretty much walked in, looked at the charts, and all I kept hearing was pots(there was too much ringing in my ears). He walked out without prescribing anything but I met with him a few weeks later. The poor nurse almost had a heart attack…

    • What would we do without our nurses??? Perfect example! My doctor was all over the place during the test, but thankfully there was always someone with me, and he prescribed me right away after I got a chance to lay down for a bit.

  14. Kerry

    I am finding this blog quite helpful. After all i have read, believe my 16 year old to have POTS.
    We visit with her cardiologist tomorrow to discuss. She had a cardiac ablation about a year ago for SVT but still comments and complains about random forceful heartbeats and acceleration. Her heart rate will go from 40 to 120 when lying down, standing for a decent amount of time, etc. 5-6 times per week (that i know of). She had a heart monitor implanted about 6 weeks ago. This serves as evidence of the crazy heart rates, etc. The traditional methods of monitoring did not yield any findings. (Finally he sees them now.). She too feels faint in the shower, or when standing in line. Experiences dizziness and light-headedness several times per day when going from sitting to a standing position. Takes a moment or two to get her bearings. Too she went through a long period of time where she slept a lot during the day and had insomnia at night! (We’ve been working on keeping her moving/lifestyle changes so no napping will occur.) She too had mono 2 years ago. I feel that was the trigger. She was on a beta blocker (i think this made her worse). We took her off it a few weeks ago and she is sleeping so much better.
    She has bouts of nausea randomly when trying to go to sleep and has mild sleep apnea. She is fit and not overweight.. Her hands are often cold and feels full quickly after eating. Does this sound like POTS to you?
    All blood an urine tests came back in the normal range.
    No tilt table tests or CT scans have been performed.
    All of these symptoms present inconsistently and she has not fainted.

    • She sounds like a perfect potsy :) A lot of potsy’s I’ve talked to, had mono, or really bad pneumonia right before their pots occurred. She definitely needs to get a Tilt Table Test done. That’s the main way of diagnosing it, and if you can, have her get a referral to a Neurologist, so they can check and make sure any of her blood pooling in her legs, etc isn’t due to any actual damage, bc that can have the same effect. Not fainting is very common too, but feeling like you are about to, or feeling like you might get sick, and then it tiring you right out. Best of luck for you both!

      • Kerry

        Hello again.
        So, we had the appointment in January after I exchanged this post with you. The Dr. did not suggest undergoing a tilt table test. It was suggested we continue with my daughter having a T&A first to address sleep issues with the hopes that restoring sleep would solve the multitude of symptoms. (ya right).
        She does see a neurologist for sleep issues, but not the latter (blood pooling).
        I did ask about the possibility of POTS and he at least acknowledged the possibility (to a degree). We go back in next week. Symptoms are still present. Some are lessened, other, new ones appeared.
        Not sure how to approach our visit. Any advice? We need to get “somewhere” with this. Even a diagnosis.
        I’m not sure how serious he assesses this to be. I feel a diagnosis would move us in A direction… whatever that is.. Frustrated!

      • If he isn’t willing to book a tilt table test, then get your family doctor (GP) to do it, or to refer you to a Cardiologist who will. The symptoms seem to be like that. Back and forth, a little better, then back to bad, then new symptoms, etc. I hope she’s hanging in there! Sleep is definitely important, but the underlying issue is still needing to be dealt with! Grrrr!

  15. I had the tilt table test on Tuesday, February 18 and passed out after the nitro. I woke up when the nurses were calling my name. They were talking between them and I thought they said I was out for 2 minutes. I heard them say I had no pulse or blood pressure for some time. I was so sick after that test and thought I was going to die. I had diarrhea, chills, nausea , and was dizzy. They did keep me for several hours and sent me home. I don’t remember even seeing the doctor until after I came to. He said I have vasovagal syncope (so does my brother and I’m pretty sure my daughter does as well). I still do not feel well- sick to my stomach and lightheaded. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

  16. Gladys cifuentes

    Hello all! One month ago I started feeling dizzy, lightheaded and weak. After going to several doctors and having every test come out A+, I was finally put in a tilt table one week ago. After half hour I was doing good, and they gave me a pill to speed up my heart. After a few minutes my heart started beating fast and my blood pressure dropped to 0/20. I almost fainted. I am 32 and in my whole life I have only fainted twice after doing exercise on a stepping machine. Before the test I thought I was getting better being slightly lightheaded. After this test I have felt the worse. Nause every morning, dizzy and lighthheaded every minute of the day. My blood pressure is not bad I think, being in around 100/70 at the lowest 90/60 (before the pill i the test it was 90/60 80/60). The doctor dis diagnose me with neurocardiogenic pre syncope. What do you think? Thank you!

    • Definitely sounds like it. Though with POTS you don’t always faint. A lot of people just feel very weak and sick to their stomachs. I faint too, and as for your blood pressure. Even if it’s in what doctor consider “normal range” if it’s a big difference from what you’re used to, it can still make you feel crappy. I hope they can help how you’re feeling, instead of just leaving you sick with a diagnosis. Also maybe a referal to a Neurologist would help determine if there was any actual physical damage in your veins, etc.

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