Mummy Says Princess Had Coronary Disease
Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon enjoyed a privileged lifestyle in what is now Luxor about 3,500 years ago. But she may not have been a happy princess towards the end. Two of her three main coronary arteries were calcified, a marker of atherosclerosis. Someone in her situation today would have bypass surgery.
Scientists discovered her condition with a full-body CT scan of her mummified remains. The princess has thus become the oldest known case of coronary artery disease. Researchers presented their finding at the International Conference of Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging in Amsterdam. [A. H. Allam et al., "Atherosclerosis Was Common in Ancient Humans: Results of the Horus Study of Ancient Egyptian Mummies"]
The ancient Egyptian diet included fruit and vegetables, wheat and barley, small amounts of meat, and bread and beer. And Egyptians were active. Sounds like a recipe for a healthy heart. So why did the Princess die in her 40s?
The researchers suggest that she could have been genetically predisposed to heart problems. Or she may have eaten a richer diet than commoners did. She could have had inflammation from common parasitic diseases. Or there may be an as yet unknown cause of some cardiovascular pathology. The mummy scans show that heart disease, considered a result of our modern lifestyle, may not be so modern after all.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]