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'Ice Man' Mummy May Have Been at Risk of Heart Disease
Date:8/1/2014

ther known risk factors -- such as being overweight, sedentary and smoking -- were not relevant for people living in this time period.

However, "what is similar between now and then is the human genetic material," the researchers wrote. They say they found genetic variations that work to "predispose the carrier to the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease."

Ancient people were also highly vulnerable to other illnesses, such as infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies and trauma, the Italian group said in a news release from the World Heart Federation. These issues often caused their death before heart disease could impact their health, the researchers noted.

"Until now, the Ice Man is the only ancient human remain in which a genetic predisposition for cardiovascular disease has been detected," Zink's group said, but future work on remnants of DNA in other mummies might reveal just how widespread such vulnerabilities were.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about atherosclerosis.

SOURCE: World Heart Federation, news release, July 30, 2014

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