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The Curse of the Egyptian Mummy Was Atherosclerosis

admin - May 19, 2011

While this Life Line Screening blog title sounds almost like a Scooby Doo cartoon mystery, it is actually the latest buzz in the cardiology field.

A recent preliminary study (Horus) used computerized tomography (CT) to scan the arteries of 52 mummies and found atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) was common in middle-aged and older Egyptians, a recent HealthDay article reports.

About half of the 52 mummies scanned had arterial calcification, a marker for atherosclerosis, and 3 mummies showed evidence of atherosclerosis. One of the 3, Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon, a noble of Thebes (Luxor), died in her 40s.

Although no known cause was given for the princess’ death, the article does quote Dr. Gregory S. Thomas, director of nuclear cardiology education at the University of California, Irvine, and co-principal investigator of the study as saying, “Today, she would have needed bypass surgery.”

Overall, what the study does mean is that what was thought to be a modern disease, artherosclerosis was actually present 3,500 years ago. Furthermore, it was present at a time when tobacco and trans-fat were unknown and at a time and place where the lifestyle was thought to be relatively healthy.


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