New York: Mummies from thousands of years ago and around the world show evidence of clogged arteries, according to a new research, which dispels the myth that heart disease is a modern-life ailment.
The study, published in The Lancet, suggested that atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease wherein calcium deposits narrow the arteries, may have been a universal disease in all human societies. While some researchers believed hardening of the arteries was a 20th century disease, the new study suggested it to be a basic part of human ageing.
“In three different continents and a total of five different sites, prehistoric peoples had atherosclerosis,” said study co-author Caleb Finch, a neurobiologist at the University of Southern California.
There’s no doubt that westernised diets have worsened diabetes, obesity and chronic disease, but whether a more primitive diet could completely eliminate those scourges was debatable, LiveScience reported.
Finch and his colleagues used CT scanning to analyse the arteries of 137 mummies that spanned 4,000 years. The mummies came from Peruvian, ancestral Pueblo Indian, indigenous Aleutian islander, and ancient Egyptian populations. Most of the mummies were younger than about 60 years old.
Despite some of the people coming from societies with a grain-based diet and others likely consuming mainly meat and fish, all of the mummies showed atherosclerosis.
It can narrow the arteries and reduce blood flow, and if the calcium deposits rupture, it can cause heart attacks. The findings suggested that heart disease may be an unavoidable part of human ageing.