Some forms of acute vital organ injury leading to death or severe disability have appropriately attracted significant attention among clinicians, researchers, and the public. There is almost universal public understanding of the concept of a heart attack. Many members of the public also are now familiar with the concept of a brain attack. Unlike medical expressions such as myocardial infarction or stroke, lay terms including the word attack convey a sense of urgency and importance. Such terms have helped to achieve considerable progress in treatment or outcome by focusing public attention, encouraging early clinician intervention, and establishing a research agenda.