Heart disease is an increasing epidemic in our society and it’s a condition I once credited to our unhealthy lifestyles, which include hours of watching TV and frequent trips to fast food drive-thrus. But a new study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging, says heart disease is not a modern disease.
Before there were televisions and endless unhealthy fast-food options to meet our every craving, heart disease was a problem in ancient Egypt. Researchers have found the earliest evidence of coronary artery disease in a 3,550-year-old mummy of an Egyptian princess. A CT Scan of the mummy showed a build-up of plaque in her arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles, which can cause a heart attack. The princess, who lived between 1580 and 1550 B.C.E., died in her early 40s. I wonder, was it was a heart attack that took her life?
‘Commonly, we think of coronary artery or heart disease as a consequence of modern lifestyles, mainly because it has increased in developing countries as they become more westernized,’ the study’s co-principal investigator Gregory S. Thomas says in a news release. However, researchers found that that after studying 44 ancient Egyptian mummies with identifiable arteries or hearts, nearly half showed calcification in the arteries. This is diagnostic of or highly suggestive of atherosclerosis, thickening of the artery walls.
Researchers worked with Egyptologists to understand the lifestyle in Ancient Egypt and review risk factors that might affect the health of the heart and arteries. ‘We know that Egyptians had an overall better diet, did not smoke cigarettes and were more active’yet they still have the same disease we have. This discovery points to the fact that we don’t understand atherosclerosis and heart disease as well as we think we do, ‘ says Thomas
This research shows that genetics is more important then previously believed when it comes to being predisposed to heart disease. Researchers feel this evidence is more reason for people to manage factors that they can control, such as diet and exercise.