Atherosclerosis in ancient and modern egyptians: The horus study

Adel H. Allam, Mohamed A. Mandour Ali, L. Samuel Wann, Randall C. Thompson, M. Linda Sutherland, James D. Sutherland, Bruno Frohlich, David E. Michalik, Albert Zink, Guido P. Lombardi, Lucia Watson, Samantha L. Cox, Caleb E. Finch, Michael I. Miyamoto, Sallam L. Sallam, Jagat Narula, Gregory S. Thomas

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13 Scopus citations


Background Although atherosclerosis is usually thought of as a disease of modernity, the Horus Team has previously reported atherosclerotic vascular calcifications on computed tomographic (CT) scans in ancient Egyptians. Objectives The purpose of this study was to compare patterns and demographic characteristics of this disease among Egyptians from ancient and modern eras. Methods We compared the presence and extent of vascular calcifications from whole-body CT scans performed on 178 modern Egyptians from Cairo undergoing positron emission tomography (PET)/CT for cancer staging to CT scans of 76 Egyptian mummies (3100 bce to 364 ce). Results The mean age of the modern Egyptian group was 52.3 ± 15 years (range 14 to 84) versus estimated age at death of ancient Egyptian mummies 36.5 ± 13 years (range 4 to 60); p < 0.0001. Vascular calcification was detected in 108 of 178 (60.7%) of modern patients versus 26 of 76 (38.2%) of mummies, p < 0.001. Vascular calcifications on CT strongly correlated to age in both groups. In addition, the severity of disease by number of involved arterial beds also correlated to age, and there was a very similar pattern between the 2 groups. Calcifications in both modern and ancient Egyptians were seen peripherally in aortoiliac beds almost a decade earlier than in event-related beds (coronary and carotid). Conclusions The presence and severity of atherosclerotic vascular disease correlates strongly to age in both ancient and modern Egyptians. There is a striking correlation in the distribution of the number of vascular beds involved. Atherosclerotic calcifications are seen in the aortoiliac beds almost a decade earlier than in the coronary and carotid beds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-202
Number of pages6
JournalGlobal Heart
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


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