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Archaeology & History

Heart disease found in ancient mummies

By T.K. Randall
March 12, 2013 · Comment icon 10 comments

Image Credit: Urville Djasim
CT scans of ancient mummies have revealed that heart disease was widespread in the ancient world.
Heart disease is often thought to be a product of fast food, a lack of exercise and other lifestyle factors, things we tend to associate with the modern developed world. A new study involving detailed scans of 137 antique mummies dating back 5,000 years however has revealed that as many as a third of them showed signs of heart disease and hardened arteries. Contrary to popular belief, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of our ancestors didn't prevent them from suffering from some of the same health problems we see today.

"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," said senior study author Dr. Gregory Thomas. "I believed it too, until we scanned these people." Dr. Thomas was keen to emphasize however that the find does not invalidate healthy eating and exercise. "The message here is not that we can't do anything about heart disease," he added. "This is not a fait accompli."[!gad]Heart disease is often thought to be a product of fast food, a lack of exercise and other lifestyle factors, things we tend to associate with the modern developed world. A new study involving detailed scans of 137 antique mummies dating back 5,000 years however has revealed that as many as a third of them showed signs of heart disease and hardened arteries. Contrary to popular belief, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of our ancestors didn't prevent them from suffering from some of the same health problems we see today.

"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," said senior study author Dr. Gregory Thomas. "I believed it too, until we scanned these people." Dr. Thomas was keen to emphasize however that the find does not invalidate healthy eating and exercise. "The message here is not that we can't do anything about heart disease," he added. "This is not a fait accompli."
People tend to think of heart disease as a scourge of modern life, brought on by vices such as greasy fast food, smoking and the tendency to be a couch potato.


Source: LA Times | Comments (10)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Wickian 11 years ago
Isn't anything but raw fruits/vegetables/meat processed? I guess it stands to reason even ancient methods of processing food changes what it does to you.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Hilander 11 years ago
Sounds like heart disease is something we may not be able to escape. One thing we might take into account is these people may of ate food that was going bad because of no refrigeration and that could play a role. Not to mention lack of medical care.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Darkwind 11 years ago
So much for the paleo diet. lol
Comment icon #4 Posted by MedicTJ 11 years ago
I once drew the ire of an emergency medical educator at a seminar about 4 years ago. The question asked was, "What is the leading cause of death in the world today?" I answered, "Cardiac arrest." I was told, "no.....the leading cause of death is heart disease." I said, "I beg to differ and I'm fairly certain the leading cause of death is cardiac arrest. EVERYBODY dies of cardiac arrest. And if that's not true, go start digging up graves until you find someone's heart beating."
Comment icon #5 Posted by AlienDan 11 years ago
So much for the paleo diet. lol I don't think mummies where hunter gatherers... they probably ate tons of grains.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Esoteric Toad 11 years ago
The leading and ONLY cause of death is being born alive, period. That being said I am so glad they have shot down another myth that along with common sense you can pretty much eat anything. I cringe every time I hear a snake oil salesman talk about ancient peoples having miracle diets that will allow a person to cure cancer, diabetes and live to be a 140 years old.
Comment icon #7 Posted by nathair 11 years ago
Egyptians 5000 years ago where not hunter gatherers, none of the nations who build cities at that time were. So what mummies? And what lifestyle?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Black Red Devil 11 years ago
I don't think mummies where hunter gatherers... they probably ate tons of grains. I was of the opinion they didn't have a digestive system or at least not a functional one.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Pandora7321 11 years ago
I would like to know what their teeth and jawbones looked like. If they're dental hygiene wasn't very good that could be a major factor as well.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Hobbit Feet 11 years ago
Heart disease is part of the aging process. The medical "business" (which is a major embarrassment) just wants to take every dime we have by making people think we can live longer and continue to give them every dime we'll ever have.


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