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Scans of Egyptian Mummies Show Heart Disease Was Ancient Malady
Date:5/17/2011

l investigator, Dr. Adel Allam of Al Azhar University in Cairo, offered three possible causes for the incidents of atherosclerosis, including:

  • There may still be some unknown risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or a gap in researchers' understanding of it.
  • Genetics may predispose a person to developing atherosclerosis.
  • Parasitic infections, which were common among ancient Egyptians, may have caused an inflammatory response that put these humans at risk for coronary disease.

The researchers also pointed out that diet may still have played a role in coronary artery disease in ancient Egypt, at least in the case of the princess. As nobility, they said, she may not have shared the same diet as a common Egyptian and could have enjoyed more meals rich in meat, butter and cheese. During this period in history, foods were also preserved in salt, which may also have had an adverse effect.

Because the study was to be presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides detailed information on atherosclerosis.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, May 17, 2011


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