Abstract 18229: Evaluation of Atherosclerosis in Ancient Egyptian Mummies Using Multidetector Computed Tomography
Introduction: Ancient Egyptian mummies have been the subject of scientific inquiry for hundreds of years. In the modern era, paleoradiology has been successful in elucidating the medical problems and potential causes of death of our ancient relatives who are well preserved due to the intricate Egyptian process of mummification. We used 64-multidetector CT technology to study the occurrence of arterial atherosclerosis in five ancient mummies.
Methods: We performed whole-body, 64-slice CT scanning using the 64-CT GE Lightspeed VCT (GE Healthcare) on five mummies on loan from the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York in order to assess the presence of arterial vascular calcification. Vessel wall calcification is considered pathognomonic for the presence of atherosclerosis. The degree of vessel wall calcification was assessed based upon calcium deposit concentration along the expected course of each vessel using calcification standards applied to living subjects.
Results: The five scanned mummies lived at various times between 1075 B.C.E. and 325 C.E. The identities of four of the five mummies, in addition to their names and demographic data, were known due to information gathered during the excavation process. Four out of the five mummies had some degree of atherosclerosis. No atherosclerosis was detectable on the mummy whose identity was unknown. The mummy Pasebakhaienipet demonstrated mild right femoral, severe right carotid artery, and moderate left carotid artery calcification. Demetrios had severe right femoral calcification. The mummy Hor showed moderate calcification of the right femoral artery. The final mummy Thothirdes had mild bilateral femoral atherosclerosis.
Conclusion: Our scans indicate that despite a diet which was based primarily upon agriculture and less so on meat/saturated fat, in addition to a lifestyle which was by no means sedentary based upon available evidence, Egyptian remains still showed evidence of often significant atherosclerosis, indicating that vascular disease is not a modern phenomenon but a product of the interplay between human genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
- © 2011 by American Heart Association, Inc.