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Mummy Heart Disease

April 1, 2013

Mummies from a variety of different cultures show signs of heart disease.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Ancient heart disease.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People often associate atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, with the modern Western lifestyle. But in a previous Science Update, we reported that ancient Egyptian mummies showed signs of it, too. Since the mummies represented the elites of Egyptian society, who may have eaten a richer diet than the average person of the time, the researchers expanded their study to include naturally mummified people from all walks of life. They scanned the arteries of mummies from the Aleutian Islands, the American Southwest, and Peru. This according to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center cardiologist Greg Thomas.

GREG THOMAS (Long Beach Memorial Medical Center):

What was most striking was that atherosclerosis was seen in all four different cultures with all different diets.

HIRSHON:

This suggests that hardening of the arteries may be an inevitable part of aging. But Thomas says exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help postpone the onset of heart disease. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

A CT scan of a fortysomething female Egyptian mummy, princess Ahmose Meyret Amon, showing clogged arteries. The mummy is about 3500 years old. (The Lancet)