A team of scientists led by Caleb Finch, University of Southern California Professor and ARCO/ Kieschnick Professor of Gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, reported that clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) was a common cause of disease and premature death in ancient societies in the March 10, 2013, issue of the journal The Lancet.
The researchers used CT (computed tomography) scans to examine the arterial health of 137 mummies from across four continents and found that calcified patches on the mummies arteries was a common indication of advanced atherosclerosis from the four regions that the mummies came from and as far back in time as 5,200 years ago.
The peoples examined in the research included ancient Peruvians, Ancestral Puebloans, the Unangans of the Aleutian Islands, ancient Egyptians, and Otzi the Iceman, a natural mummy who lived around 3200 BCE and was discovered frozen in a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991.
Atherosclerosis is the leading modern day cause of heart attacks and strokes.
The research indicates that clogged arteries had an independence of race, diet, and climate. The scientists argue for a new approach in prevention but maintain that diet, weight control, and exercise are still the most effective measures in preventing disease caused by atherosclerosis.