Heart Disease Dates Back to Ancient Princess

Scientists discover clogged arteries in 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 17, 2011 12:08 PM CDT
In this image made available by the Mission Internal Medical Group on Tuesday May, 17, 2011, Dr. Ibrahem Badr prepares a?mummy from the Late Period (ca. 688–332 BC) for CT scanning May 11, 2010.   (Michael Miyamoto, MD)
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(Newser) – Heart disease definitely didn't begin with the Big Mac: An Egyptian princess who lived more than 3,500 years ago is the oldest known person to have had clogged arteries, dispelling the myth that heart disease is a product of modern society, a new study says. Ahmose-Meryet-Amon lived in Thebes between 1540 and 1550 BC; she and 43 other tested mummies had chunks of calcium stuck to their arteries. Experts say that during the princess' lifetime, beef, pork, mutton, antelope, and duck were readily available in the royal courts. Salt was also likely used to preserve their food.

"The pharaohs and other royalty probably had more fat in their diet than the average Egyptian," said a Swedish health professor. "The sculptures and hieroglyphs may show people who were very thin and beautiful, but the reality may have been different." He also said Egyptian royals were more likely to be killed by heart problems after surviving other infections that would have killed poorer Egyptians. "They simply had the good luck to live long enough to develop heart disease."

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