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June 5, 1954


JAMA. 1954;155(6):578. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.03690240044017

Apoplexy is defined as a sudden disorder of nervous function caused by the closure or rupture of a blood vessel.1 The fact that it is often transitory has been explained by assuming a vascular spasm sufficiently severe and prolonged to cause focal ischemia of nervous tissue. Although three arguments have been put forth in support of this theory, none appears to be sound. For the assumption that the blood vessels of the human brain are capable of active constriction there is no adequate proof. The indications are rather that the vasomotor control of the cerebral arteries is feeble. Another argument in support of the vascular spasm theory is that at autopsy pathologists often find no thrombi or emboli in vessels leading to softened parts of the brain. This may suggest that the ischemic necrosis was caused by a reversible functional change in the vessels, but it may also be

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