Heart disease has been a problem for humans for millennia.
Researchers thought our fast, processed food diets made high cholesterol a problem for the modern man.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center studied ancient mummies and found they had clogged arteries too.
“I wanted to see if heart disease is a modern-day problem. It appears to have been a problem for a very long time,” says lead author and assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine Dr. Mohammad Madjid, in a media release.
Previously, whenever researchers would analyze the hearts or arteries of mummified remains, a CT scan was used. However, these scans are only able to identify accumulated calcium, not cholesterol. That’s what makes this study so groundbreaking; Madjid and his team are the first researchers ever to use an imaging technique (near-infrared spectroscopy) that detects cholesterol on ancient mummies.
As far as what was causing such excessive cholesterol plaque buildup among people living during this time period, researchers listed factors such as smoke from fire pits, viral and bacterial infections left untreated, and bad genes.
It was also noted that plaque buildup was present in samples believed to have been taken from people who died at a young age.