Oldest case of clogged arteries in Egypt mummy: study

Apr 05, 2011
A wooden coffin lays open showing a mummy at an excavation site south of Cairo in 2005.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The first known case of clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis, has been found in the mummy of an Egyptian princess, said a study presented Sunday at a major US cardiology conference.

Researchers have long known that ancient Egyptians suffered from plaque build-up in the arteries that supply the heart, but the latest finding suggests that the syndrome may be more prevalent, and mysterious, than previously thought.

"Commonly, we think of or heart disease as a consequence of modern lifestyles, mainly because it has increased in developing countries as they become more westernized," said Gregory Thomas of the University of California, Irvine.

"These data point to a missing link in our understanding of heart disease, and we may not be so different from our ancestors," he said.

Researchers performed computerized tomography (CT) scans on 52 Egyptian mummies to determine whether they had atherosclerosis.

Of the 44 that had detectable arteries or hearts, 45 percent of them had calcium buildups in their vessel walls.
The oldest among them was an Egyptian princess who likely lived between 1580 and 1550 BC, and probably died when she was in her early 40s, researchers believe.

Even though ate a leaner diet, including less meat, and did not smoke cigarettes, they ended up with the same disease as modern humans.

But that does not mean people should disregard modern research, said co-author of the study Adel Allam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

"Recent studies have shown that by not smoking, having a lower blood pressure and a lower cholesterol level, calcification of our arteries is delayed," said Allam.

"On the other hand, from what we can tell from this study, humans are predisposed to , so it behooves us to take the proper measures necessary to delay it as long as we can."

Explore further: Archaeologists race against time to explore Neanderthal site

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heart disease found in Egyptian mummies

Nov 17, 2009

Hardening of the arteries has been detected in Egyptian mummies, some as old as 3,500 years, suggesting that the factors causing heart attack and stroke are not only modern ones; they afflicted ancient people, ...

Coronary calcium distribution tied to heart attack risk

May 27, 2008

A new calcium scoring method may better predict a person’s risk of heart attack, according to a new multicenter study published in the June issue of the journal Radiology. Calcium coverage scoring takes into account not on ...

Recommended for you

Laser from plane discovers Roman goldmines in Spain

4 hours ago

Las Médulas in León is considered to be the largest opencast goldmine of the Roman Empire, but the search for this metal extended many kilometres further south-east to the Erica river valley. Thanks to ...

Ancient New Zealand 'Dawn Whale' identified

Nov 18, 2014

University of Otago palaeontologists are rewriting the history of New Zealand's ancient whales by describing a previously unknown genus of fossil baleen whales and two species within it.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2011
Egyptians had a high carb, high grain diet.
Correlates well with modern data on low carb diets.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Apr 06, 2011
Egyptians had a high carb, high grain diet.
Correlates well with modern data on low carb diets.

Mummies are not made of the poor or middle class. This was a man at the top of the society. He was fed with whatever he chose, including a diet rich with meats from the pharaoh's livestock. Don't jump to conclusions that fit your preconceptions.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.