What is the significance of elevated blood lactate levels in systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)?

Updated: May 07, 2018
  • Author: Lewis J Kaplan, MD, FACS, FCCM, FCCP; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Blood lactate levels are often measured in critically ill patients. These are thought to be indicators of anaerobic metabolism associated with tissue dysoxia. Although a reasonable presumption in patients presenting in circulatory shock and trauma, in septic patients they reflect more the inflammatory burden rather than level of tissue hypoperfusion and, as such, usually do not decrease, if elevated, in response to fluid resuscitation. Levels are commonly elevated from increased peripheral intraorgan production, reduced hepatic uptake, and reduced renal elimination. Numerous studies have found that lactate levels correlate strongly with mortality.

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