What is High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)?

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) occurs when higher altitudes -- and the resulting lower air pressure -- cause fluid to leak from blood vessels and to collect in the brain.

The brain is naturally surrounded by cranial fluid, but HACE introduces fluid inside the brain. HACE is very dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. A person with HACE could become comatose and die, if not quickly treated.

High altitude cerebral edema is a form of severe altitude sickness. It is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the brain swells and ceases to function properly. Persons with this illness are often confused and have a decreased ability to think. They may not even recognize that they are ill. They may have confusion and appear lethargic, and they often experience a loss of coordination, causing a staggering walk that is similar to the way a person walks when very intoxicated on alcohol.
(This answer provided for NATA by the Marist College Athletic Training Education Program.)

Continue Learning about Brain & Nervous System Disorders

What You Need to Know About Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
What You Need to Know About Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the nerve cells controlling voluntary muscle movement in the brain and...
Read More
What is the prognosis for tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP)?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP) is a progressive disease, but it is rarely fatal. Most individual...
More Answers
What is the treatment for Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS)?
Riverside Center for NeurosciencesRiverside Center for Neurosciences
The treatment for LKS usually consists of anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and speech therapy, whic...
More Answers
Can You Die from Parkinson's Disease?
Can You Die from Parkinson's Disease?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.