High-altitude cerebral edema (HACE): the Denver/Front Range experience

Semin Neurol. 2000;20(2):209-17. doi: 10.1055/s-2000-9830.


High-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) is a potentially fatal metabolic encephalopathy associated with a time-dependent exposure to the hypobaric hypoxia of altitude. Symptoms commonly are headache, ataxia, and confusion progressing to stupor and coma. HACE is often preceded by symptoms of acute mountain sickness and coupled, in its severe form, with high-altitude pulmonary edema. Although HACE is mostly seen at altitudes above that of the Denver/Front Range visitor-skier locations, we report our observations over a 13-year period of skier-visitor HACE patients. It is believed that this is a form of vasogenic edema, and it is responsive to expeditious treatment with a successful outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Altitude Sickness / complications*
  • Altitude Sickness / physiopathology*
  • Altitude Sickness / therapy
  • Brain Edema / etiology*
  • Brain Edema / pathology
  • Brain Edema / physiopathology*
  • Brain Edema / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mountaineering / injuries*
  • Mountaineering / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Edema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Edema / pathology
  • Pulmonary Edema / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Edema / therapy
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / physiopathology