Is a tilt table test risky or painful?

Possible risks of tilt table testing to assess syncope or fainting include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • episodes of syncope (fainting), which are planned for
  • dizziness or headache
  • hypotension (low blood pressure) or hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • nausea
  • palpitations and/or change in heart rate
There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to the procedure.
Purposely doing something that might cause you to faint sounds scary, but your doctor and the staff at the testing center will take several steps to keep you safe during the tilt table test. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored at all times. You will be strapped to the table at your chest and legs, so you cannot fall off, even if you faint. A footboard will keep you from slipping off the bottom of the table. The table will be tilted from flat to a nearly upright position, but you will never be tilted upside down.
You may not feel your best during the tilt table test. In addition to fainting, some of the symptoms you might experience include nausea, sweating, lightheadedness, a fluttering feeling in your chest or blurred vision. Tell the staff if you experience these “pre-fainting” symptoms.
Most people recover and feel fine once the table is returned to a flat position. Emergency equipment and medication will be nearby in case your blood pressure or heart rate does not return to normal quickly enough, but they are rarely needed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.