Blood lactate measurements and analysis during exercise: A guide for clinicians

Matthew L. Goodwin, James E. Harris, Andrés Hernández, L. Bruce Gladden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

352 Scopus citations


Blood lactate concentration ([La-]b) is one of the most often measured parameters during clinical exercise testing as well as during performance testing of athletes. While an elevated [La-]b may be indicative of ischemia or hypoxemia, it may also be a "normal" physiological response to exertion. In response to "all-out" maximal exertion lasting 30-120 seconds, peak [La-]b values of ∞15-25 mM may be observed 3-8 minutes postexercise. In response to progressive, incremental exercise, [La-]b increases gradually at frst and then more rapidly as the exercise becomes more intense. The work rate beyond which [La-]b increases exponentially [the lactate threshold. (LT)] is a better predictor of performance than VO2max and is a better indicator of exercise intensity than heart rate; thus LT (and other valid methods of describing this curvilinear [La-]b response with a single point) is useful in prescribing exercise intensities for most diseased and nondiseased patients alike. H+-monocarboxylate cotransporters provide the primary of three routes by which La-transport proceeds across the sarcolemma and red blood cell membrane. At rest and during most exercise conditions, whole blood [La-] values are on average 70% of the corresponding plasma [La-] values; thus when analyzing [La-]b, care should be taken to both (1) validate the [La-] b-measuring instrument with the criterion/reference enzymatic method and (2) interpret the results correctly based on what is being measured (plasma or whole blood). Overall, it is advantageous for clinicians to have a thorough understanding of [La-]b responses, blood La-transport and distribution, and [La-]b analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-569
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Diabetes Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Lactate analyzers
  • Lactate threshold
  • Maximal lactate
  • Onset of blood lactate accumulation
  • Plasma
  • Whole blood


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