Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Coronary Heart Disease Found in Ancient Egyptian Princess

Most of us think that heart disease is a modern phenomenon and that people in antiquity lived lives blessedly free of these debilitating conditions. Well it seems that coronary heart disease is truly an ancient condition and the oldest ever case has just been diagnosed in the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian Princess.

Princess Ahmose Meryet Amun was a daughter of the Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II of Ancient Egypt's 17th dynasty and died around 3,500 years ago sometime in her 40's. This might seem to be a young age to die for us folks of the 21st century, but this was a fairly average age to die for Ancient Egyptians. Her mummy is housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and it was during the recent scans of the royal mummies that the royal princess's heart disease was detected.

During the scan it was found that Princess Ahmose Meryet Amun suffered from coronary atherosclerosis during her life, which is a potentially fatal condition that is caused by plaque building up in the arteries, causing blockages that can lead to strokes or heart attacks. It was discovered that the Egyptian princess had blockages in five of her major arteries, including those that supply the heart and the brain, which would have required her to have a double bypass operation today.

One of the causes of coronary heart disease is thought to be lifestyle, with modern diets rich in trans fats and sugar, lack of exercise and smoking being among the main culprits. But although the average Ancient Egyptian diet and lifestyle was probably low in risk factors for coronary heart disease, Ahmose Meryet Amun was a member of the royal family and a such probably ate a much richer diet and did far less physical exercise than other members of the population at that time.

There is also the suggestion that her atherosclerosis could have a genetic element, as several other of her female relative's mummies also showed signs of this disease. The cause of her disease could also be inflammation brought on by her immune system responding to the infections that were prevalent in Egypt during that period.

So it seems that the royalty of Ancient Egypt also suffered from a disease that is a scourge of the modern world.

1 comment:

  1. The Egyptian hierarchy had sweet beers and wines as well as sweetened cakes with highly refined flours the poor could not afford. So their diet would be very high in sugars and unfermented sweets and carbs.Very much like our modern diet.