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UCSD Professor Finds Egyptian Mummies Had Clogged Arteries

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Aired 11/18/09

UCSD Professor Finds Hardening Arteries Afflicted Ancient Egypt

A team of UCSD researchers carefully examined 22 mummies from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities using a six-slice CT scanner.

Above: A team of UCSD researchers carefully examined 22 mummies from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities using a six-slice CT scanner.

— A study by a clinical professor at UCSD shows that ancient Egyptian mummies had clogged arteries. This dispels the notion that arterial sclerosis is a modern disease.

Cardiologist Michael Miyamoto says arterial sclerosis is strongly associated with the bad habits of modern Americans: things like smoking, fat consumption and sedentary lifestyles.

However, his CT scans of ancient mummies in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo showed that the mummies' arteries clearly had plaque buildups. He says they were quite similar to those of a contemporary American.

According to Miyamoto, the mummified people probably ate a fair amount of meat, and salt was commonly used to preserve food. Excess salt contributes to vascular disease.

Miyamoto says his findings show that humans appear to be genetically inclined to develop arterial sclerosis, however he adds that unhealthy diets should still be avoided.

His findings are published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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