How to Prepare for the Tilt Table Test

Woman on a tilt table with a blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen cuff on smiling at the doctor who is performing the test. NormaLyte ORS Electrolyte for POTS
Woman on a tilt table with a blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen cuff on smiling at the doctor who is performing the test. NormaLyte ORS Electrolyte for POTS

How to Prepare for the Tilt Table Test

You’ve suspected you have POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) for a while and you’ve finally been approved for the infamous Tilt Table Test.  The Tilt Table Test, among doctors, is considered the gold standard of diagnostics when it comes to POTS.  You’re both excited and nervous all at the same time; you’ve heard horror stories.

WHAT IS A TILT TABLE TEST?

A tilt table test is used to diagnose the cause of fainting as it’s associated with vasovagal syncope which happens when blood pressure drops rapidly.  There are a variety of medical conditions that can cause you to faint or to feel as though you will faint.

During the test you will lie flat on a table.  The table will move you into different positions tilting you in various positions until you are then upright.  This can cause some patients to feel faint or to actually lose consciousness.  Don’t worry about falling off the table.  There are safety straps and if you do lose consciousness you will be immediately placed back into an upright and vertical position.  Side effects of the test include blurred vision, headache, dizziness, or light headedness.

TIPS TO PREPARE FOR A TILT TABLE TEST

Your doctor will likely go over some of these.  Be sure to listen to any advice they will give you.  It’s likely they’re offering it to you because they’ve seen the most common problems people have had over time.

  • No eating or drinking before the test.  This can help prevent any nausea or vomiting that may occur.
  • Take your medication as usual.  Unless your doctor tells you to suspend meds, be sure to take your medicines as you would normally.
  • Take a bathroom break.  Prevent any accidents from happening by asking to use the restroom right before your test.
  • Find a ride.  Ask a friend or family member to take you to your appointment.  If you do end up feeling lousy afterwards it will be good to have someone drive you.

THE ACTUAL TEST

For me, it’s important to know the steps that will be taken long before I walk into my appointment so that I can psychologically prepare.  Knowing what to expect can be important for some.

When you start they will take baseline readings of your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels.  Once getting on the table you will be strapped in for your safety so that you do not fall off the table.  You’ll go from a vertical position to about a 70 degree tilted position.  For about 10 minutes you’ll hold this position.  It’s during this phase that POTS symptoms generally appear.  Some people will faint, others will sweat profusely, experience pain, hot flashes, or nausea.  Once this portion of the test is complete the doctor will have you lay in a horizontal position for approximately 15-20 minutes while they continue to monitor you.  The entire test will take approximately 45 minutes, but it’s possible the doctor will stop the test early if they get positive results.

RESULTS OF THE TILT TABLE TEST

Your doctor will likely talk to you about the results of your test while you’re still in the office.  Typically, you will be diagnosed with POTS if your heart rate raises above 30 beats per minute after a 10 minute tilt, but there may be other qualifiers your doctor is looking for.

THE POOR MAN’S TILT TABLE TEST

It’s possible that your doctor may not have access to a tilt table.  In this case, he or she may do what is called the “Poor Man’s Tilt Table Test” during a regular visit.  This test replicates the shifting of the tilt table by having you stand up and sit down repeatedly over a period of time.  Usually your heart rate is monitored, and if your heart rate increases over 30 beats per minute your doctor may go ahead and diagnose you without the actual table.  You can read the instructions for doing the poor mans tilt table test at home here.

NEGATIVE RESULTS

It has happened where people say that they’ve experienced their doctor telling them they do not have POTS after having had a Tilt Table Test.  Maybe you don’t have POTS and it’s time to move on to another diagnosis to explain your symptoms.  

For some people, they have fought against the results still believing that it is POTS causing their symptoms.  Those people often advocate for themselves by asking to repeat the test, sharing the results of their at home poor man’s tilt table test, or by finding a new doctor.  If your results are negative and you feel deep down that it is POTS, then continue to advocate.  It can take up to seven years on average for a person to receive a diagnosis.

POSITIVE RESULTS

Your doctor will talk to you about how to manage your condition.  Oftentimes, increasing the amount of sodium you take in a day is the most recommended treatment plan.  

NormaLyte is a great solution to getting your daily intake.  Without the added and unneeded vitamins and minerals that some electrolyte companies add to their product, without artificial sweeteners, no preservatives, and in our PURE, no artificial sweeteners.  NormaLyte was made for people with POTS.  Use your FSA or HSA to purchase, or check out our letter of medical necessity.