The usefulness of head-up tilt testing and hemodynamic investigations in the workup of syncope of unknown origin

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1988 Aug;11(8):1202-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1988.tb03973.x.


To enhance the clinical evaluation of patients suffering from recurrent syncope of unknown origin, the integrity of mechanisms controlling blood pressure was examined in 151 patients utilizing a screening tilt test. Ninety-eight patients had an abnormal blood pressure and/or heart rate response to tilt testing, including provoked syncopal attacks in 63 patients. Whenever indicated, the screening tilt test was followed by blood volume and hemodynamic determinations, as well as autonomic nervous system testing to identify contributing pathophysiological abnormalities (hypovolemia, venous pooling, autonomic dysfunction). Detailed analysis of this battery of tests allowed us to conclude that: (1) The tilt test is commonly a provocative tool in the workup of patients with recurrent syncope due to vasovagal - vasodepressor reactions and other abnormalities of blood pressure regulation; (2) Its usefulness is augmented by associated hemodynamic and blood volume evaluations; (3) The identification of contributory pathophysiological mechanisms of blood pressure control facilitates specific therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Volume
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture*
  • Pressoreceptors / physiology
  • Reflex, Abnormal / diagnosis
  • Scopolamine / therapeutic use
  • Syncope / drug therapy
  • Syncope / etiology*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiopathology


  • Scopolamine