Blood Lactate Tests: Do You Really Need One

Blood lactate tests are used to evaluate your body’s ability to handle high levels of stress. They have been around since the 1970s, but they were not widely adopted until recently because they required expensive equipment and trained personnel to perform correctly. However, now that these devices are becoming less costly and easier to use, many doctors believe that they will become increasingly common in the future.

The purpose of a blood lactate test is to measure your body’s response to high levels of stress. Your body uses glucose (blood sugar) for energy and produces lactic acid when it does not get enough oxygen or fuel. When you exercise, your muscles burn up glycogen stores in order to produce energy, which requires more glucose than normal. If there is too little glucose available, then the muscle cells begin to die off and you lose control over what happens next.

Lactate is produced when the liver breaks down lactic acid. When your muscles are working hard, the liver releases more lactic acid into your bloodstream. As a result, you may feel tired or even sick after exercising. This is why blood lactate tests are often performed before and during exercise to determine how much oxygen and fuel your body needs to function properly.

These tests may be used to screen for a number of conditions, including anemia and diabetes. They can also be used to establish how various factors, such as altitude training, influence your athletic performance. Most commonly, blood lactate tests are used by elite athletes or those who want to become elite athletes in order to assess their bodies’ physical limits.

There are no invasive procedures required to take a blood lactate test. You will need to exercise for a short period of time on a treadmill or stationary bike to get your heart rate up, and then blood will be drawn from your arm at regular intervals. Lactate levels are measured in millimoles per liter, which is abbreviated as “mmol/L.” The higher the number, the more lactic acid in your bloodstream.

The blood lactate test is not considered to be especially uncomfortable. During exercise, you may experience mild to moderate pain in your muscles and feel very thirsty. Blood lactate tests can only measure the reaction of your body to short bursts of exercise; they do not measure long-term endurance.

Blood lactate tests can be used to assess a wide range of conditions, but they are not foolproof. The results may vary depending on your overall health and fitness level, how well you follow test protocols, and other factors. It is always a good idea to consult with a medical professional before and after taking the test.

Sources & references used in this article:

Perceived exertion, electromyography, and blood lactate during acute bouts of resistance exercise by KM LAGALLY, RJ ROBERTSON… – Medicine & Science in …, 2002 –

Prognostic significance of blood lactate and lactate clearance in trauma patients by MA Régnier, M Raux… – … : The Journal of …, 2012 –

Association between blood lactate and acid-base status and mortality in ventilated babies by SA Deshpande, MPW Platt – Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and …, 1997 –

The kinematic, kinetic and blood lactate profiles of continuous and intra-set rest loading schemes by J Denton – 2005 –

Whole blood lactate kinetics in patients undergoing quantitative resuscitation for severe sepsis and septic shock by MA Puskarich, S Trzeciak, NI Shapiro, AB Albers… – Chest, 2013 – Elsevier

Effects of crystalloid solutions on circulating lactate concentrations: Part 1. Implications for the proper handling of blood specimens obtained from critically ill patients by EV Jackson, J Wiese, B Sigal, JA Miller… – Critical care …, 1997 –

Association between blood lactate levels, Sequential Organ Failure Assessment subscores, and 28-day mortality during early and late intensive care unit stay: a … by TC Jansen, J van Bommel, R Woodward… – Critical care …, 2009 –

A non-ischemic forearm exercise test for the screening of patients with exercise intolerance by JY Hogrel, P Laforet, RB Yaou, M Chevrot, B Eymard… – Neurology, 2001 – AAN Enterprises