Mummies Show Heart Disease is an Ancient Problem,

March 29, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

Their investigation with whole-body CT scans found that this wasn’t a unique case. About 45% of 43 other mummies also had evidence of atherosclerosis, an accumulation of plaque in arteries.The findings suggest that atherosclerosis has afflicted humans for a long time and isn’t just a modern disease. The study was scheduled for presentation Sunday at the annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology ACC, held in New Orleans.”Commonly, we think of coronary artery or heart disease as a consequence of modern lifestyles, mainly because it has increased in developing countries as they become more westernized,” co-principal investigator Dr. Gregory S. Thomas, a clinical professor and director of Nuclear Cardiology Education, University of California, Irvine, said in an ACC news release.”These data point to a missing link in our understanding of heart disease, and we may not be so different from our ancient ancestors,” he suggested.Genetic factors associated with atherosclerosis may play a more important role in the disease than previously thought, said Thomas and his colleagues.Most of the atherosclerosis in the mummies was located in large arteries, including the aorta in the abdomen. But atherosclerosis was also found in important small arteries. About 7% of the mummies had obstructions in heart arteries, which can cause a heart attack, and 14% had blockages in arteries to the brain, which can cause a stroke.The researchers noted that studying the mummies didn’t allow them to determine the exact cause of death, but they pointed out that ancient Egyptian scrolls describe symptoms consistent with cardiac chest pain.

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