Use of sublingual nitroglycerin during head-up tilt-table testing in patients >60 years of age
Previous work had demonstrated a reduced specificity associated with head-up tilt protocols using high-dose isoproterenol in patients between 20 and 50 years of age. We evaluated the specificity of head-up tilt testing using different isoproterenol infusion doses and administration of nitroglycerin in patients aged >60 years. In addition, whether the same protocols have impact on the sensitivity of the test was also assessed. One hundred sixty subjects were included in this study. Seventy-six were volunteers randomized to either head-up tilt test with low-dose, 3- and 5-μ/min of isoproterenol (group I) or to a protocol including 0.4 mg of sublingual nitroglycerin (group II). In addition, after an upright tilt drug-free state, 58 patients with a history of syncope underwent repeat head-up tilt with increasing doses of isoproterenol infusion, followed by sublingual nitroglycerin if the test result remained negative. The remaining 33 patients were subjected to the nitroglycerin protocol after the drug-free state phase. In the control groups, the incidence of false-positive responses was 88% and 95%, respectively. In patients with syncope after a negative test result during 5 μg of isoproterenol infusion, nitroglycerin administration increased the number of positive responses from 45% to 79%. The percentage of positive tilt in patients undergoing nitroglycerin administration after the drug-free state part of the protocol was 78%. Administration of nitroglycerin was the most significant predictor of a positive upright tilt in patients with syncope. In subjects aged >60 years, head-up tilt protocols with high-dose isoproterenol infusion and nitroglycerin maintained an adequate specificity. In this subset of patients, nitroglycerin seemed to provide a better sensitivity than isoproterenol.