Heart Attacks And Strokes, Also In Ancient Times | KCUR

Heart Attacks And Strokes, Also In Ancient Times

Mar 11, 2013

While doctors typically focus their time caring for living patients, one Kansas City cardiologist has spent the last few years examining the health of mummies. Yes. Mummies.

Dr. Randy Thompson of St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, and a group of international researchers, recently ran one hundred and thirty seven mummies through CT machines. They found that third of them showed signs of atherosclerosis, a symptom of heart disease.

"So our conclusion is that atherosclerosis is in large part an aspect of human aging, and there may be cardiovascular risk factors that we don’t know about or don’t understand as well as we think we do," he said.

Dr. Thompson says modern lifestyles, including poor diets and a lack of exercise, likely exacerbate the problem, but it may not totally account for it. The mummies involved in the study, published in the journal Lancet today, came from pre-industrial - and in some cases pre-agricultural - Egyptian, Peruvian, Puebla, and Aleutian Island societies.