A tilt-table test is meant to assess the heart rhythm of those patients who often undergo fainting spells. It is as simple, inexpensive, and low risk procedure. However, the test is not recommended to those patients with a tendency to faint due to heart disease.
Orthostatic Hypotension is a problem of comparatively recent origin. Hence its assessment is a vital part of clinical practice. It is estimated that around 3 per cent of the country’s population is expected to suffer from hypotension. Persons who experience the condition only once might not seek medical aid. However, if a syncopal event recurs often after an initial event, medical aid will be necessary. Hospital reports indicate that nearly 10 – 40 per cent of patients are in fact diagnosed with this condition.
A tilt-table test is meant to assess the heart rhythm of those patients who often undergo fainting spells. This condition is termed as postural or orthostatic hypotension meaning low blood pressure. Orthostatic hypotension is an abrupt fall in blood pressure when a person gets up from a squatting, sitting or lying position. In ordinary cases, whenever an individual stands up, force of gravity induces the blood to settle in the legs. Due to this, blood does not reach the heart in quantities enough for pumping. The normal response of the body to overcome this condition is to increase the heart beat and also to contract the veins in order to take more blood into the heart.
However, in persons suffering from orthostatic hypotension such compensatory reflexes do not occur. As a result, there is a fall in blood pressure so that the patient feels giddy and might even faint.
Tilt-Table Test Procedure
If a tilt-table procedure is undertaken without resorting to pharmacologic agents, it discriminates symptomatic patients from asymptomatic subjects with a high level of precision and when tested at angles ranging from 60 – 70 without the presence of pharmacologic provocation, the test displays 90 per cent specificity. This makes it an ideal tool for evaluating orthostatic hypotension. Besides, a tilt-table test is the sole diagnostic tool that was subjected to adequate scrutiny to evaluate its effectiveness.
The tilt-table test is carried out to assess the heart rhythms of those patients suffering from postural hypotension. Tilt table test protocol requires the sufferer to lie on a special table, tilted to a particular degree. This specific angle imparts a stress on those areas of the nervous system that control the heart rate and blood pressure.
Tilt-Table Test – Benefits
The test aids in evaluating the heart rate of a patient to various changes in position from lying supine to standing up. While the test is going on, the prescribed intravenous infusion is given while the blood pressure and the heart rate are continuously monitored. Starting at a horizontal level, the tilt-table might be tilted gradually to that of a vertical position. Blood pressure, pulse rate and symptoms like nausea, giddiness, weakness or sweating are monitored once in a few minutes. The object of the tilt-table test is to simulate orthostatic hypotension.
If the test is positive, the patient is admitted to a hospital if necessary, for observation as well as for further testing. The tilt-table test is as simple as it is informative. Another advantage is that a tilt table test is quite inexpensive. Further, tilt table test risks are minimal and are due to carelessness on the parts of technicians assisting in the tests, rather than from anything else. However, the test is not recommended to those patients with a tendency to faint due to heart disease.