Egyptian princess was first person with diagnosed coronary artery disease

May 17, 2011

The coronary arteries of Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon - as visualised by whole body computerised tomography (CT) scanning - will feature in two presentations at the International Conference of Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging (ICNC) this week in Amsterdam (15-18 May). ICNC is now one of the world's major scientific event in nuclear cardiology and cardiac CT imaging.

The Egyptian princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon, who lived in Thebes (Luxor) between 1580 and 1550 BC and who is now known to be first person in human history with diagnosed , lived on a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and a limited amount of meat from domesticated (but not fattened) animals. Wheat and barley were grown along the banks of the Nile, making bread and beer the dietary staples of this period of . Tobacco and were unknown, and lifestyle was likely to have been active.

The coronary arteries of Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon - as visualised by whole body computerised tomography (CT) scanning - will feature in two presentations at the International Conference of Non-Invasive (ICNC) currently taking place in Amsterdam (15-18 May). ICNC is now one of the world's major scientific event in nuclear cardiology and imaging.

Both presentations will be based on findings from the Horus study, in which arterial atherosclerosis was investigated in 52 ancient Egyptian mummies. Results have shown that recognisable arteries were present in 44 of the mummies, with an identifiable heart present in 16. Arterial calcification (as a marker of atherosclerosis) was evident at a variety of sites in almost half the mummies scanned, prompting the investigators to note that the condition was common in this group of middle aged or older ancient Egyptians; the 20 mummies with definite atherosclerosis were older (mean 45.years) than those with intact but no atherosclerosis (34.5 years).

Although relatively common at other vascular sites, atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries was evident in only three of the mummies investigated, but was clearly visualised in Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon (in whom calcification was present in every vascular bed visualised).

The CT scan image below shows that the princess, who died in her 40s, had atherosclerosis in two of her three main coronary arteries. "Today," said Dr Gregory S Thomas, director of Nuclear Cardiology Education at the University of California, Irvine, USA, and co-principal investigator of the Horus study, "she would have needed by-pass surgery."

"Overall, it was striking how much atherosclerosis we found," said Dr Thomas. "We think of atherosclerosis as a disease of modern lifestyle, but it's clear that it also existed 3500 years ago. Our findings certainly call into question the perception of atherosclerosis as a modern disease."

If, however, the princess enjoyed a diet deemed to be healthy and pursued a lifestyle probably active, how could this "disease of modern life" affect her so visibly? Dr Thomas and his co-principal investigator Dr Adel Allam of Al Azhar University, Cairo, suggest three possibilities.

First, that there is still some unknown risk factor for cardiovascular disease, or at least a missing link in our understanding of it. Dr Allam noted a likely effect of genetic inheritance, pointing out that much of the human predisposition to atherosclerosis could be secondary to their genes. He similarly raised the possibility that an inflammatory response to the frequent parasitic infections common to might predispose to coronary disease - in much the same way that immunocompromised HIV cases seem also predisposed to early coronary disease. Nor can a dietary effect be excluded, despite what we know of life in ancient Egypt. Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon was from a noble family, her father, Seqenenre Tao II, the last pharaoh of the 17th Dynasty.

So it's likely that her diet was not that of the common Egyptian. As a royal, she would have eaten more luxury foods - more meat, butter and cheese. Moreover, foods were preserved in salt, which may also have had an adverse effect.

Despite the suggestion of a genetic, inflammatory or unknown effect, Drs Thomas and Allam were keen not to discount those risk factors for heart disease which we do know about. Indeed, even in the study's apparent association of atheroma with increasing age, there was a pattern of prevalence consistent with our own epidemiology today. "Recent studies have shown that by not smoking, having a lower blood pressure and a lower cholesterol level, calcification of our arteries is delayed," said co-investigator Dr Randall C Thompson of the St Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, USA. "On the other hand, from what we can tell from this study, humans are predisposed to , so it behoves us to take the proper measures necessary to delay it as long as we can."

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not rated yet May 18, 2011
Other recent studies have shown different results. To believe that only diet is related to heart disease or is even a major factor is voodoo science. Carb intake with it's corresponding spikes in insulin production to mitigate the higher glycemic indecies in many modern processed food products has, probably, contributed much more. Insulin tends to cause a hardening of the arterial wall which, in turn leads to minor abrasions that "catch" cholesterol as it passes. Of course we do not want to alienate the food industry much so we tell people to avoid butter, meats and other nutritious, and sometimes, less healthy alternatives like margarine. Food and drugs go hand in hand. Bad food leads to drugs which lead to profit. Even if they found different results they would never be published since Big Pharma runs the medical establishment.
1 / 5 (1) May 18, 2011
Big government runs the food industry much to the detriment of those who trust the FDA and the Ag Dept.

"the Journal of the American Medical Association published new research which suggested that lowering sodium consumption not only doesn't benefit most people, it may actually increase risk of heart attacks for some. The research was apparently so disturbing to government regulators that some felt the need to step out and criticize the results in the media, something that they rarely do."
"Increasingly, some of the basic assumptions about nutrition that have formed the core of the government's recommendations on what Americans should eat are being questioned by studies which suggest the advice is not merely ineffective but may be counterproductive, contributing among other things to the rise in obesity which the White House decries. Rather than be humbled and made cautious by such research, however, government regulators are simply plowing ahead...
1 / 5 (1) May 18, 2011
"In April of last year Scientific American reviewed the mounting number of studies contradicting the governments point of view in a piece entitled, "Carbs Against Cardio: More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart." And in October of 2010 the journal Nutrition weighed in with a piece by five researchers entitled "In the Face of Contradictory Evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee," which cited dozens of peer-reviewed studies questioning the science at the foundation of the guidelines.

None of this has deterred the government."
Nor does it seem to deter the authors here as they blame 'luxury foods' not the plentiful high carb wheat and barley.
not rated yet May 19, 2011
I worked on a Cardiac Rehab unit as well as in the Coronary Care Unit for years in the 70's and 80's. At the time we were telling anyone with any heart problems that they, basically, could never drink coffee again as it might kill them.
Even though I am on a number of meds for various ailments if my insurance helped to pay for alternatives I would use them.I trust Big Pharma and the AMA etmal less and less all the time.
1 / 5 (1) May 19, 2011
At the time we were telling anyone with any heart problems that they, basically, could never drink coffee again as it might kill them.

Why were you telling them that?
not rated yet May 20, 2011
Why were you telling them that?
That was the "current science". It turned out that earlier studies had not differentiated different types of heart disease. The problem was with certain post MI patients that had a particular arrhythmia. A small subset which today is not even an issue as that particular arrhythmia can be surgically corrected usually.
1 / 5 (1) May 20, 2011
That was the "current science".

Who approved the 'current science'?
The FDA had nothing to do with it did they?
not rated yet May 22, 2011
It was written up in a couple of journals and it was the position of many Cardiologists around the country. It was the status quo at that time.
FDA would have had nothing to do with it since it had nothing to do with drugs which, at that time, was the only role they generally had.

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