Effect of clinical triggers on positive responses to tilt-table testing potentiated with nitroglycerin or clomipramine

Am J Cardiol. 2011 Jun 1;107(11):1693-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2011.01.057. Epub 2011 Mar 21.


The effect of clinical triggers on tilt-table testing (TTT) responses has not been systematically evaluated. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of clinical triggers on positive responses to TTT potentiated with nitroglycerin (which acts mainly through peripheral dilation) or clomipramine (which acts mainly through a central serotoninergic mechanism). We enrolled 380 consecutive adult patients. In 66 patients, syncope was triggered by emotional distress (central trigger), in 161 by specific situations or prolonged standing (peripheral trigger), and in 153 syncope occurred in the absence of any detectable trigger. Nitroglycerin TTT, performed in 252 patients, consisted of a passive phase of 20 minutes followed, if negative, by sublingual administration of 400 μg nitroglycerin spray and continuation of tilting for 15 minutes. Clomipramine TTT, performed in 128 patients, consisted of 20 minutes of tilting with intravenous administration of 5 mg clomipramine during the first 5 minutes. The positivity of nitroglycerin TTT was greater in patients with clinical triggers (71% central and 75% peripheral) than in those without (36%). With clomipramine TTT, the positivity rate was greater in patients with central triggers (92%) than in those with peripheral triggers (45%) or no triggers (30%). The cardioinhibitory form was more frequent in patients with a central trigger than in the other 2 groups (34% vs 12% and 7%) and with clomipramine TTT than with nitroglycerin TTT (19% vs 11%, respectively). In contrast, mixed or vasodepressor forms were more frequently induced by nitroglycerin TTT (41% vs 24%). In conclusion, the presence of clinical triggers increased the positivity of TTT and influenced the type of response. We found some specificity of nitroglycerin and clomipramine for peripheral and central mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Clomipramine* / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitroglycerin* / pharmacology
  • Syncope / diagnosis*
  • Tilt-Table Test*
  • Vasodilator Agents* / pharmacology


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Clomipramine