May 18th, 2011
The Curse of the Mummy: Coronary Artery Disease?
Could the real curse of the mummy be coronary artery disease? Despite strict adherence to the original Mediterranean diet and a complete lack of tobacco, trans fats, and refined sugars, an Egyptian princess who died around 1550 BC is the first person in history to receive a diagnosis of coronary artery disease.
A CT scan of the princess was presented yesterday at the International Conference of Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging in Amsterdam. The princess, who had blockages in her left and right coronary arteries, was one of 52 Egyptian mummies included in the study. Twenty of the mummies had definite signs of atherosclerosis, but only 3 had evidence of coronary narrowing.
“Overall, it was striking how much atherosclerosis we found,” said Dr. Gregory Thomas, a co-principal investigator of the study, in an ESC press release. “We think of atherosclerosis as a disease of modern lifestyle, but it’s clear that it also existed 3500 years ago. Our findings certainly call into question the perception of atherosclerosis as a modern disease.”
(Photographs reprinted courtesy of Michael Miyamoto, MD)