Evidence for a detrimental effect of bicarbonate therapy in hypoxic lactic acidosis

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  15 Feb 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4688, pp. 754-756
DOI: 10.1126/science.3969564


Lactic acidosis, a clinical syndrome caused by the accumulation of lactic acid, is characterized by lactate concentration in blood greater than 5 mM. Therapy usually consists of intravenous sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), but resultant mortality is greater than 60 percent. The metabolic and systemic effects of NaHCO3 therapy of hypoxic lactic acidosis in dogs were studied and compared to the effects of sodium chloride or no therapy. Sodium bicarbonate elevated blood lactate concentrations to a greater extent than did either sodium chloride or no treatment. Despite the infusion of NaHCO3, both arterial pH and bicarbonate concentration decreased by a similar amount in all three groups of dogs. Additional detrimental effects of NaHCO3 were observed on the cardiovascular system, including decreases in cardiac output and blood pressure that were not observed with either sodium chloride or no treatment. Thus there is evidence for a harmful effect of NaHCO3 in the treatment of hypoxic lactic acidosis.

Stay Connected to Science