Thirteen patients who were survivors of sudden unexpected cardiac arrest in the community were followed up for up to 3 years. All showed an anomalous relation between erythrocyte levels of oxygen dissociation (P50) and 2,3-diphosphoglyceric acid (2,3-DPG). This could not be explained by hemoglobinopathy, carbon monoxide or methemoglobinemias. Because lactate accumulation in red blood cells may alter oxygen dissociation, whole blood and red blood cell lactate levels were measured. An average of 4.4 measurements per patient were obtained over a mean time of 5.6 months of the post-hospital phase of the follow-up period, which had a total mean duration of 22 months. The patients did not have overt congestive heart failure and were not acidotic (mean venous pH = 7.35). Lactate levels were elevated (mean = 15.1 mg/100 ml ± 0.8 mg/100 [standard error of the mean], compared with normal values of 7.6 mg/100 ml ± 1.4 mg/100 ml; P < 0.01). When lactate was plotted against red blood cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate, a positive curvilinear relation was found (r2 = 0.12, P < 0.05). The production of lactate in chronic ischemia may increase red blood cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate through glycolysis. The expected effect on oxygen dissociation of this increase in 2,3-diphosphoglycerate is offset by a counterbalancing leftward shift of the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve by an increase in red blood cell lactic acid. When lactate was compared with left ventricular ejection fraction, there was a significant negative correlation (r = 0.86, P < 0.01). Serial 24 hour ambulatory electrocardiograms (mean 4 per patient) were analyzed for changes in quantity and severity of ventricular arrhythmia at the time of lactate determinations. Six patients had lactate level variation of more than 30 percent, and five of these six patients had an increase in quantity and severity of ventricular ectopic activity when their lactate levels were in the higher range. We conclude that elevated resting lactate levels correlate with impaired ventricular function, and fluctuations in a given patient may identify changes in clinical and electrophysiologic status.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine