beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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Physical Exam

Your doctor will try to find out what caused you to faint. In addition to asking you questions about your fainting spell or spells, your doctor will also give you a physical examination. He or she may also want to run one or more of any number of tests looking for heart rhythm or neurological disturbances.

Diagnostic Tests

He or she may also order any of the following tests.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

ECG/EKG WavesPainless, Noninvasive Test Using Electrodes

This is a painless, noninvasive test in which patches with electrodes are attached to your skin to measure electrical impulses produced by your heart. These impulses are recorded as waves displayed on a monitor or printed out on graph paper.

Shows Heart Rate and Rhythm

It shows how fast your heart is beating and its rhythm (steady or irregular). It also records the timing of the electrical signals as they pass through each part of the heart.

Holter Monitor

Records Heartbeats for 24 or 48 Hours

This is a portable device that records all of your heartbeats over an extended period, usually either 24 or 48 hours.

  • You wear small patches with electrodes on your chest that are connected by wires to a small, portable recorder.
  • The recorder can be clipped to a belt, kept in a pocket, or hung around your neck.
  • During the time you're wearing a Holter monitor, you do your usual daily activities.
  • You can press a button if you are experiencing symptoms, so your doctor will know what your heart rhythm was at the time of the symptoms.

Tilt Table Test

Helps Identify the Causes of Fainting

The tilt-table test is a simple, inexpensive, and informative test that can help identify the causes of fainting.

  • You are placed on a table with a foot-support and then the table is tilted upward.
  • The tilt-table may start off in a horizontal position and be tilted by degrees to a completely vertical position.
  • Your blood pressure, pulse and symptoms are monitored throughout.
  • The non-invasive test is done on an outpatient basis and takes about 45 minutes.

Exercise Stress Test

Examines Heart Rhythms During Exercise

This test examines heart rhythms during exercise. It is usually conducted while you walk or jog on a treadmill.

Blood Tests

Check for Contribuing Underlying Conditions

Such tests look for conditions that may be contributing to your fainting, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Determine if your blood volume is appropriate for your weight

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215