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Apoplexy (from Ancient Greek ἀποπληξία (apoplēxia), meaning "a striking away") is bleeding within internal organs and the accompanying symptoms. For example, ovarian apoplexy is bleeding in the ovaries. The term formerly referred to what is now called a stroke; nowadays, health care professionals typically specify the type of apoplexy, such as cerebral, ovarian and pituitary apoplexy.
Informally, apoplexy is associated with being furious, especially as 'apoplectic'.
From the late 14th to the late 19th century, apoplexy referred to any sudden death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness, especially one in which the victim died within a matter of seconds after losing consciousness. The word apoplexy may have been used to refer to the symptom of sudden loss of consciousness immediately preceding death. Ruptured aortic aneurysms, and even heart attacks and strokes were referred to as apoplexy in the past, because before the advent of medical science there was little ability to differentiate pathoses (because there was very little accurate understanding of physiology in general).
Because the term by itself is now ambiguous, it is often coupled with a descriptive adjective to indicate the site of bleeding. For example, bleeding within the pituitary gland is called pituitary apoplexy, and bleeding within the adrenal glands can be called adrenal apoplexy.
Apoplexy also includes hemorrhaging with the gland and accompanying neurological problems such as confusion, headache, and impairment of consciousness.
Deaths attributed to apoplexy
- Apoplexy at MedicineNet.com.
- Collins World English Dictionary: apoplexy
- OED Online, 2010, Oxford University Press. 7 February 2011
- The New York Times, January 26, 1947: "Capone Dead at 48". The New York Times. January 26, 1947. Archived from the original on 9 October 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
- The New York Times, November 20, 1908: "Dowager Empress died of Apoplexy". The New York Times. November 20, 1908. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
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- The New York Times, December 18, 1894: "Death of R.L. Stevenson". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
- The dictionary definition of apoplexy at Wiktionary