Lately vascular disease has been blamed on our modern diet, but new research on Egyptian mummies suggests that it has existed for thousands of years. A team of Egyptian and American researchers ran 22 mummies from the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities through a CT scanner. What they discovered was that over half of those that had recognizable vasculature also had either definite or highly probable atherosclerosis.
MedPage Today reports on the mummies studied:
They dated from 1981 BC to 334 AD. Of the 16 for which social status could be determined, all were from a high social class. They were either members of the pharaoh’s court or priests and priestesses.
Evidence of vascular tissue was found in only 16; four had an intact heart.
Definite atherosclerosis — defined as calcification in the wall of a clearly identifiable artery — was present in five of the mummies. Probable atherosclerosis — defined as calcification along the expected course of an artery — was found in another four.
Atherosclerosis was significantly more common in the mummies estimated to be at least 45 when they died (87% versus 25%, P=0.029), but it was equally likely in men and women.
More details from MedPage Today: AHA: Mummies Show Evidence of Vascular Disease…
Abstract in JAMA: Computed Tomographic Assessment of Atherosclerosis in Ancient Egyptian Mummies
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