Mummies with Heart Disease: A Mass-Killer with Ancient Origins

Scientists studying ancient mummies found modern heart disease is an ancient human killer.

All over the world heart disease is one of nature’s most effective devices of population control and one of the leading human killers in the Western world. Modern diets and sedentary lifestyles leading to obesity are largely blamed for the disease in modern culture but a new University of Texas study, published in the American Heart Journal , found cholesterol buildup in the arteries of five mummies dating back to 2000 BC.

While heart disease is a number one killer in the US today causing about a quarter of Americans’ deaths every year, scanning the preserved arteries of ancient mummies revealed that heart disease and high cholesterol have for a long time been part of the human condition. Although processed high-fat foods leading to high-cholesterol are so often blamed for heart disease today, this new study found signs of the same kind of cholesterol-clogged arteries seen in modern humans, in the arteries of ancient mummies.