Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in Egyptian women: 1570 BCE-2011 CE

Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jul 31;167(2):570-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.01.082. Epub 2012 Feb 20.


Background: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is often thought of as a disease of modernity, a disease affecting primarily men and a disease primarily affecting members of affluent Western societies.

Methods: We reviewed CT scans for evidence of vascular calcification as a manifestation of atherosclerosis in ancient Egyptian female mummies and compared the results to clinical features of contemporary Egyptian women, who are suffering from an epidemic of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Results: The common assumption that atherosclerosis is strictly a modern disease which spares women, mainly affecting men, is not true. We report the CT examination of an ancient Egyptian woman who lived more than 3000 years ago, finding calcified atherosclerotic plaque in her systemic arteries and other abnormalities probably due to prior myocardial infarction. We also confirmed recent reports of a virtual epidemic of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in contemporary Egyptian women.

Conclusions: Atherosclerosis, both ancient and contemporary, is common in women as well as in men, and is related to both a genetic predisposition and to environmental factors including diet, exercise, obesity and exposure to smoke and other toxins.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Atherosclerosis / history*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / history
  • Coronary Stenosis / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Stenosis / history*
  • Egypt, Ancient
  • Female
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mummies / history*
  • Mummies / pathology*