News / Health

Mummies Show Signs of Heart Disease

Coronary artery calcifications were found in this mummy of Ahmose Meyret Amon, an Egyptian princess who was between 40 and 45 years when she died. She lived about 1580–1550 BCE and was found near modern day Luxor. (The Lancet)
Coronary artery calcifications were found in this mummy of Ahmose Meyret Amon, an Egyptian princess who was between 40 and 45 years when she died. She lived about 1580–1550 BCE and was found near modern day Luxor. (The Lancet)
TEXT SIZE - +
Art Chimes
Hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, is often described as a lifestyle disease resulting from smoking, poor diet, and a lack of exercise.

Now, a team of U.S. scientists has found new evidence that the disease has been around since long before our modern lifestyle.

The researchers examined CT, or “cat” scans of 137 mummies for signs of the artery disease.

Randall Thompson of the University of Missouri-Kansas City says researchers found definite or probable evidence in about one-third of the preserved corpses.

"We’ve concluded that this disease is inherent to human aging," Thompson said at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, "and that it’s not particularly characteristic of any diet or lifestyle."
This mummy of an Egyptian woman who was between 45 and 50 years old when she died, is from an unknown era and shows evidence of heart disease. (The Lancet)This mummy of an Egyptian woman who was between 45 and 50 years old when she died, is from an unknown era and shows evidence of heart disease. (The Lancet)
The mummies were mostly from ancient Egypt and Peru, plus a small number from what is now Utah in the United States, and the Aleutian Islands off Alaska - populations, in other words, with a range of diets and lifestyles across a 4000-year timespan.

It’s commonly thought that atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease in general, is related to our modern sedentary lifestyle. But Thompson noted that when they examined Aleutian mummies, all from a 19th century society of hunter-gatherers, three of the five bodies showed signs of hardening of the arteries.

“Now, one of the Aleutians who had this disease would have had a traditional lifestyle like her people had had for a very long time, hunting from kayaks and so forth," Thompson said. "And she had very extensive coronary calcifications, the kind of calcifications we see in our modern patients, the patients who need bypass surgery.”

Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attacks, but not always. The researchers say they can’t be certain whether the artery disease they found in the mummies was fatal.

But co-author L. Samuel Wann of Saint Mary’s Healthcare in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says some ancient Egyptian writings describe a familiar medical emergency, “and there are paintings on some tombs in Egypt that show people falling over, clutching their chest, as if they are having a heart attack.”

The study by Randall Thompson and his colleagues is published in The Lancet.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid