Signs of heart disease have been found in mummies from all over the world, reports the Lancet.
137 mummies from three continents show that hardened arteries have been a part of the human condition for thousands of years, regardless of differences in diet, shows a new report from Gregory Thomas, medical director of the MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and clinical professor of cardiology and UC Irvine.
Thomas and his team conducted CT scanning on mummies from the American Southwest, Alaska, Egypt, and Peru. They concluded that a third of the examined specimens exhibited markers that are precursors to heart attack and stroke. The researchers determined that 47 of the mummies had "probable" or "definite" atherosclerosis.
The findings suggest that humans may have a basic predisposition to developing cardiovascular disease as "We want to believe that we can prevent heart disease, that we don't have to get it if we do the right things and go back to nature,"Thomas told LA Times reporter, Eryn Brown. "I believed it too, until we scanned these people."
The research was presented at the American College of Cardiology in San Francisco, taking place this week. In the next phase of research, Thomas and his team will return to Peru to conduct biopsies be rehydrating the body tissues to find out whether the plaques are similar to those seen in heart patients today. They also plan to look at mummy DNA to assess the genetic risk of heart disease.
—Heather Thompson is editor-in-chief of MD+DI