Glob Heart 2014 Jun;9(2):187-96
MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial, Long Beach, CA, USA; University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.
Although atherosclerosis is widely thought to be a disease of modernity, computed tomographic evidence of atherosclerosis has been found in the bodies of a large number of mummies. This article reviews the findings of atherosclerotic calcifications in the remains of ancient people-humans who lived across a very wide span of human history and over most of the inhabited globe. These people had a wide range of diets and lifestyles and traditional modern risk factors do not thoroughly explain the presence and easy detectability of this disease. Nontraditional risk factors such as the inhalation of cooking fire smoke and chronic infection or inflammation might have been important atherogenic factors in ancient times. Study of the genetic and environmental risk factors for atherosclerosis in ancient people may offer insights into this common modern disease.