History Tells Us Hardening of the Arteries Is Only Human

English: The illustration shows a normal arter...

English: The illustration shows a normal artery with normal blood flow (figure A) and an artery containing plaque buildup (figure B). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Mom always said that death needs a reason to come. It seems that some of those reasons may be thousands of years old, like atherosclerosis, or what is commonly known as hardening of the arteries.

A group of cardiologists called the Horus Group  have gotten together to examine ancient mummies spanning about 4000 years. The populations they analyzed included ancient Egypt, ancient Peru, the Ancestral Puebloans of southwest America, and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands. They took whole body CT scans of 137 mummies looking for atherosclerosis, which they identified as calcified plaque in the wall of an artery. They also took into consideration probable atherosclerosis as evidenced by clacifications along the course of an artery.

Here’s what they found:

  • Probable or definite atherosclerosis was found in 47  of the mummies and in all four populations
  • Atherosclerosis was present in the aorta in 28  mummies, iliac or femoral arteries in 25 mummies, popliteal or tibial arteries in 25 mummies, carotid arteries in 17 mummies and coronary arteries in six mummies
  • Age at time of death was positively associated with atherosclerosis
  • Average age at death was 43 years old for mummies with atherosclerosis as compared with 32 years old for those without, indicating the longer these people lived, the better the chance of developing atherosclerosis
  • Diet and level of physical activity did not appear to be risk factors. “The ancient Egyptians and Peruvians were farmers with domesticated animals, the Ancestral Puebloans forager-farmers, and the Unangans hunter-gatherers without agriculture. . . None of the cultures were known to be vegetarian. Physical activity was probably prominent in all of these civilisations without animal or vehicle transport.”

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~ by chasm63 on March 11, 2013.

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