Scientists have discovered symptoms of heart disease in mummies from 4,000 years ago.
A new study has found the disease, which is more commonly associated with unhealthy modern diets, was more common in ancient eras.
The findings were published in the American Heart Journal and relate to mummies that were uncovered in South America and Egypt.
Experts found the wrapped corpses had evidence of atherosclerosis, which is when plaque collects on artery walls restricting blood flow.
lead study author Mohammad Madjid, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at McGovern Medical School, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said: “I’ve been looking at the pattern of heart disease in populations for over 20 years.
“Over time, the question that came to my mind was: Is it a disease of the modern day, or is it some process that is inherent to humans, irrespective of modern life?”
Discussing the findings, Dr Madjid explained that cholesterol deposits on arterial walls “essentially are the body’s wound healing mechanism gone wrong.
“It’s in response to multiple traumas [such as] infections, high cholesterol, exposure to smoke and other issues that can damage the inner lining of arteries, called the endothelium.”
Damaged walls of the arteries leads to an accumulation of white blood cells, which in turn, causes cholesterol to build up.
This can later thicken to such an extent that it blocks the blood flow through the arteries.
“These are very well-known processes that we find under the microscope in the modern age, we now have seen similar patterns in our ancestors, too,” Dr Madjid added.
“It looks like this inflammatory process and the response is an inherent part of our life.”