Heart disease present in ancient mummies

Published: Tuesday, March 12 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Scientists think that heart disease may not just be a modern scourge after finding signs of heart disease among mummies. BBC reports on the recent findings.

"A study in The Lancet of 137 mummies up to 4,000 years old found a third had signs of atherosclerosis.

"Most people associate the disease, which leads to heart attacks and strokes, with modern lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity.

"But the findings may suggest a more basic human pre-disposition.

"Previous studies have uncovered atherosclerosis in a significant number of Egyptian mummies but it had been speculated that they would have come from a higher social class and may have had luxurious diets high in saturated fat.

"To try and get a better picture of how prevalent the disease was in ancient populations, the researchers used CT scans to look at mummies from Egypt, Peru, southwest America, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

"They found that 47 or 34% showed signs of definite or probably atherosclerosis."

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