Lactic acidosis: Lactic acidosis, a very rare but serious metabolic complication, most often occurs at acute worsening of renal function or cardiorespiratory illness or sepsis. Metformin accumulation occurs at acute worsening of renal function and increases the risk of lactic acidosis.
In case of dehydration (severe diarrhoea or vomiting, fever or reduced fluid intake), metformin should be temporarily discontinued and contact with a health care professional is recommended.
Medicinal products that can acutely impair renal function (such as antihypertensives, diuretics and NSAIDs) should be initiated with caution in metformin-treated patients. Other risk factors for lactic acidosis are excessive alcohol intake, hepatic insufficiency, inadequately controlled diabetes, ketosis, prolonged fasting and any conditions associated with hypoxia, as well as concomitant use of medicinal products that may cause lactic acidosis.
Patients and/or care-givers should be informed of the risk of lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is characterised by acidotic dyspnoea, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, asthenia and hypothermia followed by coma. In case of suspected symptoms, the patient should stop taking metformin and seek immediate medical attention. Diagnostic laboratory findings are decreased blood pH (<7.35), increased plasma lactate levels (>5 mmol/L) and an increased anion gap and lactate/pyruvate ratio.