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Apoplexy is bleeding into a cavity or organ. There are various forms of apoplexy, including:

  • Adrenal apoplexy—bleeding into adrenal glands
  • Pituitary apoplexy—bleeding into the pituitary gland

Pituitary Gland

Pituitary Gland Male

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Apoplexy may be caused by:

  • Tumor growth
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Blood clot
  • Acute illness
  • Drastic changes in blood volume or blood pressure
  • Blood clotting disorders
Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of apoplexy include:

  • Hormonal insufficiency
  • Previous surgery
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Injury
  • Severe blood loss during childbirth—Sheehan's syndrome

Symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bluish skin color
  • Fever
  • Loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Confusion
  • Pain
  • Fatigue

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Imaging tests assess bodily structures. These may include:


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Initial treatment will be done to stabilize you. After you have been stabilized, treatment options will be chosen based on the cause and location of your apoplexy. Options include:

  • Medications—to correct hormonal imbalances
  • Surgery—tumor removal if the tumor is the cause

There are no current guidelines to prevent apoplexy.


Hormone Health Network—Endocrine Society

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Canadian Institute for Health Information

Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Pituitary apoplexy . UCLA Health System website. Available at: Accessed October 8, 2013.

Last reviewed June 2015 by Kim Carmichael, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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