Apoplexy is a medical
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 term, which can be used to describe 'bleeding
Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging or haemorrhaging is the loss of blood or blood escape from the circulatory system...

' in a stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 (formerly described as a cerebrovascular accident). Without further specification, it is rather outdated in use. Today it is used only for specific conditions, such as pituitary apoplexy
Pituitary apoplexy
Pituitary apoplexy or pituitary tumor apoplexy is bleeding into or impaired blood supply of the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. This usually occurs in the presence of a tumor of the pituitary, although in 80% of cases this has not been diagnosed previously...

 and ovarian apoplexy
Ovarian apoplexy
Ovarian apoplexy is a sudden rupture in the ovary, commonly at the site of a cyst, accompanied by hemorrhage in the ovarian tissue and/or intraperitoneal bleeding.-Pathogenesis:...

. In common speech, it is used non-medically to mean a state of extreme rage or excitement. The word derives from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word apoplēxia meaning "a striking (or hitting) away".

Historical meaning

From the late 14th to the late 19th century, the word "apoplexy" was also used to describe 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 describe the symptom of sudden loss of consciousness immediately preceding death and not a verified disease process. Sudden cardiac death
Sudden Cardiac Death
Sudden cardiac death is natural death from cardiac causes, heralded by abrupt loss of consciousness within one hour of the onset of acute symptoms. Other forms of sudden death may be noncardiac in origin...

s, ruptured cerebral aneurysm
Cerebral aneurysm
A cerebral or brain aneurysm is a cerebrovascular disorder in which weakness in the wall of a cerebral artery or vein causes a localized dilation or ballooning of the blood vessel.- Signs and symptoms :...

s, certain ruptured aortic aneurysm
Aortic aneurysm
An aortic aneurysm is a general term for any swelling of the aorta to greater than 1.5 times normal, usually representing an underlying weakness in the wall of the aorta at that location...

s, and even heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

s may have been described as apoplexy in the past.


The term "apoplexy" is used to describe bleeding within internal organ
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

s. In such usage it is coupled with an adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

 describing the site of the bleeding. For example, bleeding within the pituitary gland
Pituitary gland
In vertebrate anatomy the pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighing 0.5 g , in humans. It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain, and rests in a small, bony cavity covered by a dural fold...

 is called pituitary apoplexy
Pituitary apoplexy
Pituitary apoplexy or pituitary tumor apoplexy is bleeding into or impaired blood supply of the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. This usually occurs in the presence of a tumor of the pituitary, although in 80% of cases this has not been diagnosed previously...

, and bleeding within the adrenal glands can be called adrenal apoplexy.

In both pituitary and adrenal apoplexy, the word apoplexy refers to both hemorrhage with the gland and to accompanying neurological problems such as confusion, headache, and impairment of consciousness.

Deaths attributed to apoplexy

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  • Gabriel Dumont
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Non-medical usage

A colloquialism is a word or phrase that is common in everyday, unconstrained conversation rather than in formal speech, academic writing, or paralinguistics. Dictionaries often display colloquial words and phrases with the abbreviation colloq. as an identifier...

, particularly in the adjective form apoplectic, apoplexy means furious, enraged, or upset to the point of being unable to deal with a situation rationally or diplomatically.
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