From the website at natstroke.asn.au
The ancient Greeks were the first to both recognise and misunderstand stroke. Hippocrates, the father of physicians, first described stroke and its effects. Living in a world whose characteristics they did not understand, the Greeks believe they were at the mercy of nature. They saw a stroke as a random, uncontrollable event -- not unlike a bolt of lighting. In fact, the word Hippocrates chose to name this perplexing condition was plesso. This is a Greek word that means to be struck with violence or to be thunderstruck. It is from plesso that a later name for stroke -- apoplexy -- was taken. By the second century, it is obvious from medical writings that physicians believed stroke was unpreventable and untreatable.
These misperceptions about stroke persisted through the late 16th century, when they gained a new dimension. Stroke was then believed to be a divine judgement. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary of 1599 defined apoplexy (stroke) as a stroke of God's hands.
Even in medical writings at the turn of the 20th century, it's easy to find references to stroke as unpreventable and untreatable.
These misperceptions -- built on a lack of information, enlarged by lack of close study, and repeated throughout the ages -- still affect us today. Many times, stroke is called a cerebrovascular accident -- a misleading term that reinforces the inaccurate notion that stroke is always unpreventable.
Another common belief is that stroke is a natural consequence of growing old. We are an ageing society; fortunately, we now know that many strokes CAN BE PREVENTED or delayed by many years.
Additionally, stroke is still widely perceived as untreatable. Until recently, physicians were unable to do much more than stabilise the patient and treat the complications that often accompany stroke. They were unable to directly affect the progress of the stroke itself. But new and experimental treatments are changing this -- providing physicians with the potential to stop a stroke in its tracks.
Thankfully, the concept of stroke as a divine judgement or unpreventable accident is no longer accepted. However, misperceptions about stroke still abound