Egyptians living 3,500 years ago had signs of heart disease proving that the condition is not a phenomenon on the modern age, a conference has been told.
Scans taken of Egyptian mummies shows they had furring of the arteries when they died, experts said.
A build-up of fat and calcium in the blood vessels causes heart attacks and strokes and has been associated with the modern high fat diet and lack of exercise.
Experts scanned 20 mummies at the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt and found blood vessels and heart tissue in 13 of them.
A build-up of fatty plaque was definitely present in three and a further three had probable signs of the condition, the team from the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City said, accroding to Telegraph.co.uk.
"Perhaps atherosclerosis has been around a lot longer than we think. It might have been a malady affecting man long-term," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, president of the American Heart Association.
"It doesn't necessarily change anything we know or do now, but perhaps some of the accoutrements of civilization are not only unhealthy now, they were also unhealthy then,"HealthDay News reports.
"Rich people ate meat, and they did salt meat, so maybe they had hypertension (high blood pressure), but that's speculation," said Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City..
With modern diets, "we all sort of live in the Pharaoh's court," said another of the researchers, Dr. Samuel Wann of the Wisconsin Heart Hospital in Milwaukee.
The oldest mummy with heart disease signs was Lady Rai, a nursemaid to Queen Ahmose Nefertari who died around 1530 B.C. — 200 years before King Tutankhamun, The Associated Press reports.