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Apoplexy (from Ancient Greek ἀποπληξία, 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;[1] 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".[2]

Historical meaning[edit]

From the late 14th to the late 19th century,[3] 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 was sometimes 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 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.


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[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Apoplexy at MedicineNet.com.
  2. ^ Collins World English Dictionary: apoplexy
  3. ^ OED Online, 2010, Oxford University Press. 7 February 2011
  4. ^ "F.L. AMES'S SUDDEN DEATH". New York, NY: New York Times. 14 September 1893. p. 8. Retrieved 18 February 2016. Death was caused by apoplexy 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ The New York Times, November 20, 1908: "Dowager Empress died of Apoplexy". The New York Times. November 20, 1908. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ British Medical Journal, 30 October 1886
  8. ^ Pastel and pastellists, February 13, 2013: "Joseph DUCREUX" (PDF). Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Leonhard Euler (1707–1783)". 
  10. ^ Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, 4%
  11. ^ [1] Archived August 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ The New York Times, February 19, 1915: "H. Ward Leonard Dies -Electrical Inventor Stricken". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Melvin, Mungo (2011). Manstein: Hitler's Greatest General. London: Phoenix Orion Books. p. 503. ISBN 978-0-7538-2853-3. 
  14. ^ a b Ferguson Nisbet, John. The Insanity of Genius and the General Inequality of Human Faculty. Elibron Classics. ISBN 1-4212-7299-7. 
  15. ^ St. Hilaire, "Military Household of the Emperor." Sixth Book, 1806. Napoleon Series. Robert Burnham, editor in chief. September 2005. Accessed 18 May 2010. (French) Mullié Charles. "Michel Ordener." Biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850, Paris, 1852.
  16. ^ "Letter of Horace Mann to Horace Walpole, 30 April 1782". Images.library.yale.edu. 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  17. ^ "The New Administration". The Illustrated London News. Illustrated London News & Sketch Limited. 7 July 1866. 
  18. ^ "Polk County Journal (Crookston, MN), July 7, 1905 to December 28, 1905, Volume XXX, Page 170 | Document Viewer". Mocavo.com. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  19. ^ Craik, Alex D. D. (2008). Mr Hopkins' Men: Cambridge Reform and British Mathematics in the 19th Century. London: Springer. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-84800-132-9. 
  20. ^ The New York Times, December 18, 1894: "Death of R.L. Stevenson". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of apoplexy at Wiktionary