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Circulation. 1995 Jul 1;92(1):54-8.

Provocation of hypotension during head-up tilt testing in subjects with no history of syncope or presyncope.

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Electrophysiology Laboratory, Milwaukee Heart Institute of Sinai Samaritan Medical Center, Milwaukee, Wis., USA.



Head-up tilt test is increasingly being used to evaluate patients with syncope. This study was designed to evaluate the specificity of head-up tilt testing using different tilt angles and isoproterenol infusion doses in normal volunteers with no prior history of syncope or presyncope.


One hundred fifty volunteers were randomized to two groups of 75 each. In group 1, subjects were further randomized to have head-up tilt testing at a 60, 70, or 80 degree angle at baseline followed by repeat tilt testing during a low-dose isoproterenol infusion that increased the heart rate by an average of 20%. In group 2, after having a baseline head-up tilt test at a 70 degree angle for a maximum of 20 minutes, subjects were randomized to have a repeat tilt table testing at a 70 degree angle during a low-dose, 3 micrograms/min, or 5 micrograms/min isoproterenol infusion. In group 1, syncope or presyncope along with hypotension developed in 2 subjects during the baseline test at 60 and 70 degrees of tilt and in 5 subjects during tilting at 80 degrees. The addition of low-dose isoproterenol reduced the specificity minimally from 92% to 88% at both 60 and 70 degrees of tilt but substantially to 60% at an 80 degrees angle. However, 6 of the 10 subjects with a positive test at an 80 degree angle had an abnormal response after 10 minutes of tilt testing. In group 2, using various isoproterenol doses with tilt table testing at a 70 degree angle, low-dose (mean infusion dose, 1.5 +/- 0.45 microgram/min), 3 micrograms/min, and 5 micrograms/min isoproterenol infusions elicited an abnormal response in 1 (4%), 5 (20%), and 14 (56%) of the subjects, respectively. Using multiple logistic regression analysis, head-up tilt testing at an 80 degree angle (P = .01) or during 3 micrograms/min (P = .02) and 5 micrograms/min isoproterenol infusion rates (P < .001) was the most significant predictor of an abnormal response.


Head-up tilt testing at a 60 or 70 degree angle with or without low-dose isoproterenol infusion provides an adequate specificity. Caution is needed, however, in interpreting the results if the head-up tilt test at 80 degrees is extended beyond 10 minutes or if high doses of isoproterenol are used.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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