More Ancient Cultures Found With Atherosclerosis

…according to a report by Larry Husten at CardioBrief.  Mummies in the study were from Egypt (the majority), the American southwest, Peru, and Alaska.  Atherosclerosis was detected by CT scanning.  The Associated Press reports the mummies were between 100 and 6,000 years old.  At least one of the four cultures was described as hunter-gatherer (Anangan).

MedPageToday also covered the story.

Mr. Husten quotes the investigators:

Our findings greatly increase the number of ancient people known to have atherosclerosis and show for the first time that the disease was common in several ancient cultures with varying lifestyles, diets, and genetics, across a wide geographical distance and over a very long span of human history. These findings suggest that our understanding of the causative factors of atherosclerosis is incomplete, and that atherosclerosis could be inherent to the process of human ageing.

All of the studied ancient peoples probably had significant exposure to smoke from fires, which could cause atherosclerosis.

Perhaps atherosclerosis is just part of being human.  I’ve always told my patients they’ll get atherosclerosis if they live long enough.

Since atherosclerosis causes heart attacks and strokes and death, we like to think we can prevent it or modify it’s course through diet and other lifestyle modifications.  That’s true…to an uncertain extent.

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