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Apoplexy (from Ancient Greek ἀποπληξία (apoplexia) 'a striking away') refers to the rupture of an internal organ and the associated symptoms. Informally or metaphorically, the term apoplexy is associated with being furious, especially as "apoplectic". Historically, it was used to describe what is now known as a hemorrhagic stroke, involving a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. However, modern health care professionals typically specify the anatomical location of the bleeding, such as cerebral, ovarian, or pituitary. [1] [2] [3]


Historical meaning

From the late 14th to the late 19th century, apoplexy referred to any sudden death that began with abrupt loss of consciousness, especially when the victim died within seconds after losing consciousness. The word apoplexy was sometimes used to refer to the symptom of sudden loss of consciousness immediately preceding death. Strokes, ruptured aortic aneurysms, and even heart attacks were referred to as apoplexy in the past, because before the advent of medical science, there was limited ability to differentiate abnormal conditions and diseased states. Although physiology as a medical field dates back at least to the time of Hippocrates, until the late 19th century physicians often had inadequate or inaccurate understandings of many of the human body's normal functions and abnormal presentations. Hence, identifying a specific cause of a symptom or of death often proved difficult or impossible. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]


To specify the site of bleeding, the term "apoplexy" is often accompanied by a descriptive adjective. For instance, bleeding within the pituitary gland is termed "pituitary apoplexy," and bleeding within the adrenal glands is referred to as "adrenal apoplexy." [9]

Apoplexy also includes hemorrhaging with the gland and accompanying neurological problems such as confusion, headache, and impairment of consciousness. [10]

See also

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Pituitary apoplexy is bleeding into or impaired blood supply of the pituitary gland. This usually occurs in the presence of a tumor of the pituitary, although in 80% of cases this has not been diagnosed previously. The most common initial symptom is a sudden headache, often associated with a rapidly worsening visual field defect or double vision caused by compression of nerves surrounding the gland. This is often followed by acute symptoms caused by lack of secretion of essential hormones, predominantly adrenal insufficiency.

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Autoimmune hypophysitis is defined as inflammation of the pituitary gland due to autoimmunity.

Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome is a disease characterized by a weeks-long course of thunderclap headaches, sometimes focal neurologic signs, and occasionally seizures. Symptoms are thought to arise from transient abnormalities in the blood vessels of the brain. In some cases, it may be associated with childbirth, vasoactive or illicit drug use, or complications of pregnancy. If it occurs after delivery it may be referred to as postpartum cerebral angiopathy.

Adrenal hemorrhage (AH) is acute blood loss from a ruptured vessel of the adrenal glands above the kidneys.


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  7. Lidell JA (1873). A Treatise on Apoplexy, Cerebral Hemorrhage, Cerebral Embolism, Cerebral Gout, Cerebral Rheumatism, and Epidemic Cerebro-spinal Meningitis. New York: W. Wood & Company.
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  9. Bashari, WA; Myint, YMM; Win, ML; Oyibo, SO (June 13, 2020). "Adrenal Insufficiency Secondary to Bilateral Adrenal Hemorrhage: A Case Report". Cureus. 12 (6): e8596. doi: 10.7759/cureus.8596 . PMC   7294864 . PMID   32550089.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
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