Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't Blame Fast Food - Mummies Had Heart Disease Too

You can't blame fast food for this one,  researchers have found signs of heart disease in 3,500-year-old mummies.
"We think of it as being caused by modern risk factors," such as fast food, smoking and a lack of exercise, but the findings show that these aren't the only reasons arteries clog, said Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City.
22 mummies kept in the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo underwent CT scans, a type of X-ray.
The mummies were from 1981 B.C. to 334 A.D.
Half were determined to be over 45 when they died, and average lifespan was under 50 back in those days.

Sixteen mummy people had heart problems and another nine had hardening of the arteries.
"We were struck by the similar appearance of vascular calcification in the mummies and our present-day patients," said another researcher, Dr. Michael Miyamoto of the University of California at San Diego. "Perhaps the development of atherosclerosis is a part of being human."
One mummy had evidence of a possible heart attack but scientists don't know if it was fatal.
Of those whose identities could be determined, all were of high social status, and many served in the court of the Pharaoh or as priests or priestesses.
The oldest mummy with heart disease signs was Lady Rai, a nursemaid to Queen Ahmose Nefertari who died around 1530 B.C. — 200 years before King Tutankhamun.

German imaging company Siemens AG, the National Bank of Egypt and the Mid-America Heart Institute paid for the work.