New Study: Modern Diseases Affected People Thousands of Years Ago

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.14 - 2024 2:44 PM CET

New research shows that cardiovascular diseases were present in ancient populations.

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A recent study of mummies from various parts of the world has revealed that blood clots and cardiovascular diseases affected people thousands of years ago, challenging the notion that these conditions are primarily a consequence of modern lifestyles.

An international team of researchers examined 237 mummies from six different regions, spanning 4,000 years from ancient Egypt to the 19th century.

CT scans of the mummies' tissues revealed that 89 of them, nearly two in five, had traces of atherosclerosis, a condition that often precedes blood clots.

Interestingly, this rate of atherosclerosis is higher than today's prevalence.

A 2020 study published in The Lancet found that about 27% of the global population aged 30 to 79 has atherosclerosis.

However, it's important to note that mummification was typically reserved for society's elite, meaning these mummies may not represent the general population of their time.

The researchers concluded that the risk of atherosclerosis is embedded in human genetics and is not solely a result of modern lifestyles.

This genetic predisposition spans across different eras, cultures, and genders, with the proportion of mummies showing calcified veins being equally high among men and women from various cultures.