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Lactic Acid Blood Test

A lactic acid test detects the lactate level in blood. High lactic acid may be an indication of lack of oxygen (hypoxia).

Sample Report

Test Code: 004770

Also Known As: Lactate, Plasma Lactate

Methodology: Lactate−pyruvate; spectrophotometry

Preparation: Fasting for 10-12 hours required. Avoid exercise prior to collection.

Test Results: 3-4 days. May take longer based on weather, holiday or lab delays.


The Lactic Acid Plasma Test, or Lactate Test, measures the amount of lactate in the blood to determine if a patient has lactic acidosis. When cellular oxygen levels are low—during intense exercise or when certain infections or diseases are present—the body switches from aerobic energy production to anaerobic energy production to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body's primary energy source. Lactate is a byproduct of this process. When lactate is produced faster than the liver breaks it down, the resulting accumulation can develop into hyperlactatemia, which can then progress to lactic acidosis. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include muscle weakness, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, abdominal pain, and in some cases, coma.

Lactic acidosis can result from:

  • Conditions that cause insufficient oxygen uptake in the lungs (type A)

  • Reduced blood flow that decreases transport of oxygen to tissues (type A)

  • Excess oxygen demand or metabolic problems (type B)

Examples of conditions that can lead to type A lactic acidosis are sepsis, shock, heart attack, congestive heart failure, severe lung disease, respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, and severe anemia. Examples of conditions leading to type B lactic acidosis include strenuous exercise, liver or kidney disease, uncontrolled diabetes, leukemia, AIDS, glycogen storage diseases, and a variety of drugs and toxins.

A Lactate Test will not diagnose the cause of excess lactate levels, but it can help determine if lactic acidosis is the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Other tests may be necessary to diagnose an underlying condition. The test may be ordered at prescribed intervals to monitor lactate levels.

The Lactate Test is also known as Lactic Acid, Plasma Lactate, and L-Lactate. Patients will be instructed to fast prior to this blood test and be in a resting state. Patients should also not be on any intravenous infusion that affects the acid-base balance. Results will be available within three to four days. A doctor’s order and insurance are not required to order this test.

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