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A lactic acid test is a blood test that measures the level of lactic acid made in the body. Most of it is made by muscle tissue and red blood cells. When the oxygen level in the body is normal, carbohydrate breaks down into water and carbon dioxide. When the oxygen level is low, carbohydrate breaks down for energy and makes lactic acid.
Lactic acid levels get higher when strenuous exercise or other conditions—such as heart failure, a severe infection (sepsis), or shock—lower the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Lactic acid levels can also get higher when the liver is severely damaged or diseased, because the liver normally breaks down lactic acid.
Very high levels of lactic acid cause a serious, sometimes life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis can also occur in a person who takes metformin (Glucophage) to control diabetes when heart or kidney failure or a severe infection is also present.
A lactic acid test is generally done on a blood sample taken from a vein in the arm but it may also be done on a sample of blood taken from an artery (arterial blood gas).
A test for lactic acid is done to:
To prepare for a lactic acid test:
The health professional drawing blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.
A lactic acid test is a blood test that measures the level of lactic acid made in the body. Most of it is made by muscle tissue and red blood cells.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Results are ready in 1 day.
0.5–2.2 milliequivalents per litre (mEq/L) or 0.5–2.2 millimoles per litre (mmol/L)
0.5–1.6 mEq/L or 0.5–1.6 mmol/L
A high lactic acid value means lactic acidosis, which can be caused by:
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
CitationsFischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Other Works ConsultedChernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineBrian D. O'Brien MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineJoseph O'Donnell MD - Hematology, Oncology
Current as of: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell MD - Hematology, Oncology
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