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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 pituitary apoplexy and ovarian apoplexy.
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
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- The dictionary definition of apoplexy at Wiktionary