Navigation Links
Mummy CT scans show preindustrial hunter gatherers had clogged arteries
Date:3/10/2013

Like nearly 4.6 million Americans, ancient hunter-gatherers also suffered from clogged arteries, revealing that the plaque build-up causing blood clots, heart attacks and strokes is not just a result of fatty diets or couch potato habits, according to new research in the journal The Lancet.

The researchers performed CT scans of 137 mummies from across four continents and found artery plaque in every single population studied, from preagricultual hunter-gatherers in the Aleutian Islands to the ancient Puebloans of southwestern United States.

Their findings provide an important twist to our understanding of atherosclerotic vascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the developed world: while modern lifestyles can accelerate the development of plaque on our arteries, the prevalence of the disease across human history shows it may have a more basic connection to inflammation and aging.

"This is not a disease only of modern circumstance but a basic feature of human aging in all populations," said Caleb Finch, USC University Professor, ARCO/ Kieschnick Professor of Gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, and a senior author of the study. "Turns out even a Bronze Age guy from 5,000 years ago had calcified, carotid arteries," Finch said, referring to Otzi the Iceman, a natural mummy who lived around 3200 BCE and was discovered frozen in a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991.

With Gregory Thomas of Long Beach Memorial, Finch was part of a team that previously showed Egyptian mummies had calcified patches on their arteries indicative of advanced atherosclerosis (from the Greek arthero, meaning "gruel" and scler, meaning "hard").

But ancient Egyptians tended to mummify only royalty or those who had privileged lives. The new study led by Thomas and Randall Thompson of Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute examined mummies from four drastically different climates and diets and from cultures that mummified regular people, including ancient Peruvians, Ancestral Puebloans, the Unangans of the Aleutian Islands and ancient Egyptians.

"Our research shows that we are all at risk for atherosclerosis, the disease that causes heart attacks and strokes all races, diets and lifestyles," said Thomas, medical director of the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial. "Because of this we all need to be cautious of our diet, weight and exercise to minimize its impact. The data gathered about individuals from the pre-historic cultures of ancient Peru and the Native Americans living along the Colorado River and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands is forcing us to think outside the box and look for other factors that may cause heart disease."

Overall, the researchers found probable or definite atherosclerosis in 34 percent of the mummies studied, with calcification of arteries more pronounced in the mummies that were older at time of death. Artherosclerosis was equally common in mummies identified as male or female.

"We found that heart disease is a serial killer that has been stalking mankind for thousands of years," Thompson said. "In the last century, atherosclerotic vascular disease has replaced infectious disease as the leading cause of death across the developed world. A common assumption is that the rise in levels of atherosclerosis is predominantly lifestyle-related, and that if modern humans could emulate pre-industrial or even pre-agricultural lifestyles, that atherosclerosis, or at least its clinical manifestations, would be avoided. Our findings seem to cast doubt on that assumption, and at the very least, we think they suggest that our understanding of the causes of atherosclerosis is incomplete, and that it might be somehow inherent to the process of human aging."

The international team of researchers will next seek to biopsy ancient mummies to get a better understanding of the role chronic infection, inflammation and genetics in promoting the prevalence of atherosclerosis.

"Atherosclerosis starts very early in life. In the United States, most kids have little bumps on their arteries. Even stillbirths have little tiny nests of inflammatory cells. But environmental factors can accelerate this process," Finch said, pointing to studies that show larger plaques in children exposed to household tobacco smoking or who are obese.


'/>"/>

Contact: Suzanne Wu
suzanne.wu@usc.edu
213-740-0252
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Robotic cats, a kitten mummy and a major UK vet gathering
2. Obese patients face higher radiation exposure from CT scans -- but new technology can help
3. Brain scans detect early signs of autism
4. Professor known for work with hunter-gatherers elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
5. Ultrasensitive photon hunter
6. House hunters walrus
7. Fat outside of arteries may influence onset of coronary artery disease
8. Heart study suggests city center pollution doubles risk of calcium build-up in arteries
9. New study reveals that every single junk food meal damages your arteries
10. Softening arteries, protecting the heart
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2017)... -- Central to its deep commitment to honor the ... Prize Foundation today announced the laureates of the ... in their respective fields of Life Sciences and ... recognized with the 2017 Japan Prize for original ... the advancement of science and technology, but also ...
(Date:1/31/2017)... Jan. 31, 2017  Spero Therapeutics, LLC, a ... the treatment of bacterial infections, today announced it ... candidates from Pro Bono Bio Ltd (PBB) to ... multi-drug resistant forms of Gram-negative bacteria.   The assets ... Ltd, a PBB group company. "The ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... 26, 2017  Crossmatch, a leading provider of security ... aimed at combatting fraud, waste and abuse in assistance ... the Action on Disaster Relief conference in ... UN agencies and foreign assistance organizations throughout ... abuse are a largely unacknowledged problem in the foreign ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... ... The Greater Gift Initiative, Inc , (GGI) a Winston-Salem, NC 501(c)3 ... mission is to advance global health and highlight the greater good of clinical trial ... clinical trial volunteer. The vision of GGI is to serve as a philanthropic connector ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... DIEGO and SAN FRANCISCO ... a privately-held regenerative medicine company, and Beyond Type 1, ... with type 1 diabetes, today announced a grant from ... a functional cure for type 1 and other insulin-requiring ... ViaCyte has been developing innovative stem cell-derived cell replacement ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... ... 22, 2017 , ... Kernel , a human intelligence ... (KRS) clinical development program. KRS is a neurotechnology spin-out from the Massachusetts ... applications. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. , It addition ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... 22, 2017 Scientists propose in Nature ... damage in Gaucher and maybe other lysosomal storage diseases ... costs than current therapies. An international research ... , which also included investigators from the University of ... data Feb. 22. The study was conducted in mouse ...
Breaking Biology Technology: