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Methodology of head-up tilt testing potentiated with sublingual nitroglycerin in unexplained syncope.

Author(s): Del Rosso A, Bartoletti A, Bartoli P, Ungar A, Bonechi F, Maioli M, Ieri A

Affiliation(s): Cardiology Division, Ospedale San Pietro Igneo, Fucecchio, Italy. cardiofu@leonet.it

Publication date & source: 2000-04-15, Am J Cardiol., 85(8):1007-11.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Shortened head-up tilt testing (HUT) potentiated with sublingual nitroglycerin (60 degrees passive standing for 20 minutes followed, if negative, by 400 microg of sublingual nitroglycerin spray with the test continuing for another 20 minutes) differs from conventional nitroglycerin HUT for a shorter drug-free phase (20 vs 45 minutes). To compare the positivity rate of the 2 protocols, both tests were performed in a randomized sequence in 10 patients with unexplained syncope (study 1), and another 42 patients were randomly assigned either to conventional or to shortened nitroglycerin HUT (study 2). To evaluate the reproducibility of the shortened nitroglycerin HUT, another 38 patients with unexplained syncope underwent 2 consecutive tests within a 7+/-8 day interval (study 3). Finally, to evaluate the specificity of the test, 47 control subjects underwent shortened nitroglycerin HUT (study 4). Seven positive responses were observed during shortened nitroglycerin HUT, and there were 8 positive responses during conventional nitroglycerin HUT (p = NS) in the study 1 group. Fifteen positive (71%) responses, 5 negative responses, and 1 exaggerated response were observed during shortened nitroglycerin HUT; 16 positive (76%, p = NS vs. shortened nitroglycerin HUT), 3 negative, and 2 exaggerated responses were observed during conventional nitroglycerin HUT in the study 2 group. During the first test, 21 patients (55%) had a positive, 15 patients had a negative, and 2 patients had an exaggerated response in study group 3. During the second test, 15 positive (39%), 19 negative, and 4 exaggerated responses were observed. Thus, the reproducibility was 67% for a positive and 94% for a negative test. In control subjects, 2 positive (4%) responses, 38 negative, and 7 exaggerated responses were observed with a specificity of 96% in study group 4. In patients with unexplained syncope, shortened nitroglycerin HUT allowed a positivity rate similar to that of the conventional test. Moreover, the shortened test provided a high specificity and adequate reproducibility for both the positive and the negative responses.

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