Atherosclerosis is an old disease: Summary of the Ruffer Centenary Symposium, The Paleocardiology of Ancient Egypt, a meeting report of the Horus Study team
A symposium in January 2011 "The Paleocardiology of Ancient Egypt" reviewed old and new evidence for the presence of advanced atherosclerotic lesions in ancient Egyptian mummies. This symposium was dedicated as a Centenary for the pioneering report of Marc Ruffer in 1911 (Ruffer, 1911). Based on CT scans, the Horus Study team concluded that atherosclerosis was present in the ancient Egyptian elites and is not a disease new to the 20th Century. Presentations included radiological data on vasculature, skeleton, and teeth, indicating degenerative diseases and poor health before age 50 in these specimens. Comparisons were made with the Bolivian Tsimane, a 20th Century population living without access to modern medicine with short life expectancy. Further research is needed to develop an epidemiological context for estimating population level prevalence of vascular disease and its risk factors in ancient Egyptian societies.