Study: Even Egyptian mummies had clogged arteries
By The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013, 9:15 p.m.
LONDON — Even without modern-day temptations such as fast food or cigarettes, people had clogged arteries about 4,000 years ago, according to the biggest hunt for the condition in mummies.
Researchers say that suggests heart disease may be more a natural part of human aging rather than being directly tied to contemporary risk factors such as smoking, eating fatty foods and not exercising.
CT scans of 137 mummies showed evidence of atherosclerosis, or hardened arteries, in one third of those examined, including those from ancient people believed to have healthy lifestyles. Atherosclerosis causes heart attacks and strokes. More than half of the mummies were from Egypt, and the rest were from Peru, southwest America and the Aleutian islands in Alaska. The mummies were from about 3800 B.C. to 1900 A.D.
“Heart disease has been stalking mankind for over 4,000 years all over the globe,” said Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City and the paper's lead author.
The mummies with clogged arteries were older at the time of their death, around 43 versus 32 for those without the condition. In most cases, scientists couldn't say whether the heart disease killed them.
The study results were announced on Sunday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in San Francisco and simultaneously published online in the journal Lancet.
Thompson said he was surprised to see hardened arteries even in people such as the ancient Aleutians, who were presumed to have a healthy lifestyle as hunter-gatherers.
“I think it's fair to say people should feel less guilty about getting heart disease in modern times,” he said. “We may have oversold the idea that a healthy lifestyle can completely eliminate your risk.”
Thompson said there could be unknown factors that contributed to the mummies' narrowed arteries. He said the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in underground caves in modern-day Colorado and Utah, used fire for heat and cooking, producing a lot of smoke.
“They were breathing in a lot of smoke, and that could have had the same effect as cigarettes,” he said.
Previous studies have found evidence of heart disease in Egyptian mummies, but the Lancet is the largest survey so far and the first to include mummies elsewhere in the world.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pro-Russian militants defy accord in eastern Ukraine
- In Egypt, government watchdog Genena hit by backlash in uncovering corruption
- 58 killed in attack on U.N. peacekeeping base in South Sudan
- 7.2 earthquake strikes central Mexico
- 12 killed, 4 missing in avalanche on Mt. Everest
- Ex-Obama campaign strategists to battle each other in British election
- Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
- Ex-foreign minister in front in Afghan election; early results portend runoff
- Iran blasts ambassador visa denial
- Afghan officials say detainment of Taliban commander thwarts peace process
- Seabed data analyzed; oil discounted