Information on Reasons, Preparation and Procedure to Conduct Lactate Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Through blood lactate testing, the level of lactic acid is measured. This lactic acid is created by the red blood cells and the muscle tissue in the body. It works like this: when the body receives enough oxygen, the carbohydrates are broken down into carbon dioxide and water. But when the level of oxygen is low, then carbohydrates are broken down into energy and lactic acid.

The level of lactic acid increases when the flow of oxygen is reduced due to shock, severe infection, heart failure or strenuous exercise. The level of lactic acid increases because of liver damage. This happens because liver is known to break down the lactic acid under normal conditions.

Excessive lactic acid in the body can lead to a serious health condition known as lactic acidosis, which can be life-threatening for some people. A person on metformin, a medicine to keep diabetes under control during kidney or heart failure or infection, might also develop lactic acidosis.

A lactic acid test is carried out by drawing blood from a vein in the arm. Sometimes, the blood sample might be taken from an artery.

Reasons for lactic acid test

  • This test is done to check if the person has lactic acidosis. The symptoms include coma, vomiting, nausea, belly pain, sweet-smelling breath, cool and clammy skin, sweating, and rapid breathing.
  • The test is done to check if enough oxygen is reaching the tissues of the body.
  • Find out the reason behind the high level of acid in the blood.


You need to do a few things to prepare for the test.

  • You will be asked not to drink or eat anything for eight to ten hours before the test is conducted. You can only drink water during this time.
  • You will be asked to refrain from exercising hours before the test.
  • Please don’t clench your fist, when the laboratory technician is drawing blood for the test.

Procedure to Conduct Test

This is a standard blood test, and the health professional will draw blood from your arm using the standard procedure. An elastic band is wrapped around the upper arm to restrict the flow of blood. The veins below the band become larger, and hence it becomes easier to insert a needle into the vein. However, in most cases, the elastic band won’t be used as this might increase the level of lactic acid in the body. The skin where the needle will be inserted is cleaned with alcohol, and a needle is inserted into the vein. A tube is attached to the needle to collect the blood.