CSM Cardiologist Helps Uncover Ancient Heart Disease Breakthrough

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Milwaukee, WI, March 12, 2013 — Dr. Samuel Wann, a cardiologist at Columbia St. Mary’s, along with a team of physicians and scientists from around the world, recently discovered a breakthrough on the history and possible causes of heart disease.

Performing whole body CT scans on ancient mummies, the team of researchers was surprised to discover signs of heart disease (hardening of the arteries). These mummies came from a variety of locations, including Egypt, Peru and North America, lived on widely varying diets, and ranged in age from 500 to 4,000 years old. Of the 137 mummies tested, 34 percent showed signs of heart disease.

So, what does this mean? While heart disease – which is the leading cause of death for both men and women – has generally been believed to be a modern disease, a result of a high-fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle, this new discovery challenges that notion. The researchers concluded that heart disease may be as old as mankind itself, and most likely part of the aging process. 

“When you look at these mummies, much of what we think we know about heart disease is wrong, and if you open your eyes we can learn a lot,” said Dr. Wann at a press conference held on Sunday by the American College of Cardiology at their 62nd Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco, CA. 

Dr. Wann emphasizes, however, that this study is not justification for people to eat unhealthy foods.

“On the one hand, the study shows that we may have less control of this disease than some people would like to think we do,” said Dr. Wann, “but that's all the more reason to control the risk factors that we think we can control.”



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