Health experts attribute many of our illnesses to what we eat. Clogged arteries, in particular, is often linked to our unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles but while furred arteries is primarily caused by our modern day food and ways, evidence found on ancient human remains suggest that the condition isn't a health problem that just sprouted lately.
Researchers from Durham University in the United Kingdom, has found evidence that suggest clogged arteries have already existed for at least three thousand years. Michaela Binder, a bioarchaeologist at Durham University and fellow researcher Charlotte Roberts, a palaeopathologist also from Durham University, revealed of five skeletons, three males and two females, buried in the ancient town of Amara West north of Khartoum in Sudan that show evidence of clogged arteries.
The researchers found calcified arterial plaques in the bodies which could have possibly caused stroke or thrombosis albeit it isn't clear if atherosclerosis, the thickening of the artery wall that could lead to heart attack, caused their death.
The poor dental health of the skeletons, estimated to be between 35 to 50 years old when they died sometime between 1300 and 800BC, can also be associated with atherosclerosis. Smoke is considered as one factor that could have contributed to the development of the condition in the ancient humans as the locals are known to have widely used fire for cooking and in making pottery and metalwork.
In their study "Calcified structures associated with human skeletal remains: Possible atherosclerosis affecting the population buried at Amara West, Sudan (1300-800 BC)" published in the International Journal of Palaeopathology and which is also part of a British Museum archaeological project, the researchers said that while atherosclerosis is associated with modern lifestyle-related factors, their findings indicate that atherosclerosis may have already existed in humans for at least 3000 years.
"This paper presents five possible examples of calcified blood vessels which may represent atherosclerosis recovered from burials at Amara West, Sudan (1300-800 BC) and reviews other potential causes of arterial calcification," the researchers wrote. "These findings are unique in the bioarchaeological record and indicate that people have experienced atherosclerosis for at least 3000 years."