Geographical studies reveal that heart disease was more prevalent in early humans than first thought. HOUSTON – Ancient mummies give a valuable insight into the lives of our ancestors, and now new research shows that cholesterol and heart disease may have plagued early societies as much as humans today. An analysis of mummified remains, performed at the University of Texas Health Science Center, reveals that the arteries of people living in the Late era of Chincoro are much more obstructed than originally thought.
“I wanted to see if heart disease is a problem of today. This seems to be a problem for a very long time, "says lead author and cardiovascular assistant Dr. Mohammed Majid, in a press release.
Before, whenever researchers would analyze the hearts or arteries of mummified remains However, these scans are only able to identify the accumulated calcium, not the cholesterol, which makes this study so groundbreaking; Majid and his team are the first researchers to ever use imaging technology (close to infrared).
"A catheter is placed in the sample and it sends signals. The signals bounce off the tissue and go back. You can tell the difference between the different tissue components, because each has a unique molecular signature. as a fingerprint, "says Majid, explaining the image process.
As for the cause of death, three out of five appear to have died from pneumonia, one from kidney failure and one from unknown cause. Most (four out of five) mummies are from South America and one is from the Middle East. All five are thought to have lived between 2000 BC. and 350-1000 AD
The arterial disease found in the specimens is atherosclerosis as a result of the accumulation of cholesterol plaque in the arteries. Atherosclerosis inhibits the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body and is known to cause heart attacks.
Atherosclerosis is associated with the accumulation of cholesterol in its early stages, while the accumulation of calcium is a hallmark of the disease in its later stages. With that in mind, Majid says that previous methods of analysis that rely solely on the identification of calcium cover only half the range of the likely spread of the disease among ancient peoples.
As for what causes such an excessive buildup of cholesterol plaque among people living during this period, researchers have listed factors such as smoke from fire pits, viral and bacterial infections, and bad genes.
It was also noted that plaque accumulation was present in samples thought to have been taken from people who died at
Moving forward, Majid wants to continue to investigate ancient mummies to determine how wide heart disease is common among early humans.
"Non-invasive near-infrared spectroscopy is a promising technique for studying ancient mummies from different cultures to get an idea of the origin of atherosclerosis," the authors conclude.
The study was published in American Hear t Journal.