Ancient Egyptians suffered from atherosclerotic disease: scientists
Mummy - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: A new comparative study has confirmed a notably close resemblance in the occurrence rate and severity of the atherosclerotic disease (narrowing of the arteries with fatty deposits) between modern and ancient Egyptian people, Al Ahram reported Friday.

Professor of nuclear medicine in Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, Dr. Adel H. Allam, along with Dr. Gregory Thomas, medical director at Long Beach Memorial in California, have conducted whole-body computed tomography scans on 178 modern Egyptians with various stages of cancer and 76 Egyptian mummies.

Alam said the scan was made to compare the presence, incidence and extent of vascular calcification, which represents and is evidence of atherosclerotic disease, among modern and ancient Egyptians, according to Al Arabiya.

“Atherosclerosis was regarded as definite if a calcified plaque was seen in the wall of an artery and probable if calcifications were seen along the expected course of an artery,” Alam said.

Ages of the modern Egyptian patients that have been imaged ranged from14 to 84 years old while the age of the ancient Egyptian mummies ranged from 4 to 60 years old with an estimated average age at death of 36 years.

“The scan revealed that vascular calcification was detected in 61 percent of modern Egyptian patients versus 38 percents in the mummies,” said Alam, adding that the results confirm the atherosclerosis is not just a disease of modern times and that it was common among ancient Egyptians.

Alam revealed that the presence of atherosclerotic disease in ancient times raises the possibility of a basic readiness to the disease.
“Instead of diet rich in fat, smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, which are among other modern causes of the disease in the modern times, repeated infections, parasites, poor hygiene, lack of sanitation and living close to animals and ill-effects of breathing in smoke from cooking fires are strongly believed to have caused the disease in the ancient times,” Alam added.

The study also revealed a notable rise of the disease among wealthy ancient Egyptians who, according to Alam, might have enjoyed a fat-laden diet and sedentary lifestyle.
“The mummy of Ahmose Merit, who was the nursemaid to Queen Ahmose Nefertari (1545 B.C-1505 B.C), is a good example as the scan showed a calcification in the leg arteries and the aorta,” he added.

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