Coronary disease seen in Egyptian mummy

May 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, May 17 (UPI) -- An Egyptian princess who lived 3,500 years ago is thought to be the first known person with diagnosed coronary artery disease, researchers say.

The coronary arteries of the mummified Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon, who lived in Egypt between 1580 and 1550 B.C. were visualized using whole body computerized tomography scanning.

The finding was presented at a medical conference in Amsterdam, the European Society of Cardiology said in a release Tuesday.

The CT scan showed the princess, who died in her 40s, had atherosclerosis in two of her three main coronary arteries.

"Today," Dr. Gregory S Thomas, the principle investigator from the University of California, Irvine, said, "she would have needed by-pass surgery."

"Overall, it was striking how much atherosclerosis we found. We think of atherosclerosis as a disease of modern lifestyle, but it's clear that it also existed 3,500 years ago. Our findings certainly call into question the perception of atherosclerosis as a modern disease."

Diet may have been a factor, Thomas said, since Ahmose-Meryet-Amon was from a noble family, daughter of a pharaoh, and her diet would not have been that of a common Egyptian.

As a royal, she would have eaten more luxury foods -- more meat, butter and cheese -- and foods preserved in salt, which may also have had an adverse effect, Thomas said.

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