Heart disease dates back 4,000 years (March 16-17)

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Friday, March 15, 2013

SAN Francisco: This startling and interesting finding awed as well as surprised the international audience composed of cardiologists, internists, nurses and researchers attending the annual convention of the American College of Cardiology held at the Moscone Center on March 8-11, 2013 in California.

The Horus Study is the first systematic search for evidence of atherosclerosis among ancient people. An international collaboration of researchers performed whole body computed tomography CT scans of 137 mummies in Egypt, North America and Peru spanning a period of nearly 4000 years. They found signs of atherosclerosis in 35 percent of the mummies and across all populations in the study. Specifically, the Horus team found evidence of atherosclerosis in all groups, including 39 percent of the 77 Egyptian mummies studied, 26 percent of the peruvians, 40 percent of the 5 Hisatsinom examined 60 percent of the five Unangan.

Dr. Randall Thompson, one of the authors of the research study says that, while it is hard to compare these numbers directly with the current data on atherosclerosis, it is evident that even then, atherosclerosis was already common in ancient people.


Based on age estimates from scientific examination, the average age of the mummies in the study at their time of death was 36 yard, although those with atherosclerosis had a significantly higher average age of 43. According to experts and anthropologists, the average life span in ancient times is just 40; lending evidence to the hypothesis that atherosclerosis might be an inherent part of aging for some people.

While the thinking now says that atherosclerosis( deposition of fatty streaks on the walls of blood vessels especially arteries leading to their hardening and eventual obstruction) is considered a product of modern lifestyle, it is a condition that has spanned thousands of years, including a wide variety of geographic locations, genetic backgrounds and lifestyles. Dr. Thompson adds, "the implication is that this disease that we associate with modern lifestyle - fatty foods, sedentary lifestyle, vices and the like - is actually related to aging. Or perhaps, we don’t still fully understand the risk factors as well as we think we do."

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 16, 2013.


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