Atherosclerosis, disease in which the lumen of an artery nar-rows up to occlusion caused by buildup of plaque composed of fatty material on the inner walls, is one of the most com-mon pathology among the developed countries and every year thousands of people die by the complications of the atherosclerotic disease (in Central Europe: 201 man and 117 women per 100,000 inhabitants per year 1). Due to its connec-tion with the dietary habits, the disease had been considered peculiar of the modern sedentary and well-nourished society, with diet characterized by a rich intake of meat, sugar and fat. However, the presence of atherosclerosis in mummies of different temporal horizons and different geographic contexts 2]suggests the potential that other risk factors or causes could result in atherosclerosis.We report the results of the macroscopic and histologic studies performed on six Italian mummies from different regions and belonging to a wide range of time. The oldest subject is Oetzi, the so-called Iceman, a natural mummy of the Copper Age (3300-3100 BC) whose atherosclerotic disease has also been investigated from a genetic point of view 3. Ferrante I of Aragon, king of Naples (1423-1494 CE) suffered the consequences of a excessive and unregulated diet 4. Girolamo Macchi (1649-1734 CE), Major Writer of Santa Maria della Scala Hospital of Siena, died at an advanced age and evident traces of atherosclerotic calcifications are present along the abdominal aorta. Two mummies with atherosclerosis have been found in Comiso, Sicily, and belonged to two subjects who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries and died respectively at 50 and 30 years. Finally, the most recent mummy (20th century) comes from Abruzzo and belonged to an unidentified individual of the poor class. The problem of atherosclerosis in Antiquity is a topic that has aroused much debate in recent times. Besides being a fascinating field of research, it has an important impact on modern medicine since atherosclerosis is among the most widespread pathologies in Western populations. The six investigated mummies have unequivocal findings attributable to atherosclerosis in varying degrees of severity. In some cases, the diagnosis was macroscopic, while for some mummies it was possible to perform histologic analyses of the arterial vessels. In conclusions these cases confirm that atherosclerosis is also a disease of ancient times. The presence of atherosclerosis in pre-contemporary individuals could suggest that the disease may not only be uniquely characteristic of a specific diet or lifestyle, but it could be also an inherent component of human ageing. Additional future surveys will help to clarify the history of this disease.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS IN THE ITALIAN MUMMIES (15TH-20TH CENTURY)

Gaeta R
Primo
Methodology
;
Fornaciari G
Ultimo
Supervision
2018

Abstract

Atherosclerosis, disease in which the lumen of an artery nar-rows up to occlusion caused by buildup of plaque composed of fatty material on the inner walls, is one of the most com-mon pathology among the developed countries and every year thousands of people die by the complications of the atherosclerotic disease (in Central Europe: 201 man and 117 women per 100,000 inhabitants per year 1). Due to its connec-tion with the dietary habits, the disease had been considered peculiar of the modern sedentary and well-nourished society, with diet characterized by a rich intake of meat, sugar and fat. However, the presence of atherosclerosis in mummies of different temporal horizons and different geographic contexts 2]suggests the potential that other risk factors or causes could result in atherosclerosis.We report the results of the macroscopic and histologic studies performed on six Italian mummies from different regions and belonging to a wide range of time. The oldest subject is Oetzi, the so-called Iceman, a natural mummy of the Copper Age (3300-3100 BC) whose atherosclerotic disease has also been investigated from a genetic point of view 3. Ferrante I of Aragon, king of Naples (1423-1494 CE) suffered the consequences of a excessive and unregulated diet 4. Girolamo Macchi (1649-1734 CE), Major Writer of Santa Maria della Scala Hospital of Siena, died at an advanced age and evident traces of atherosclerotic calcifications are present along the abdominal aorta. Two mummies with atherosclerosis have been found in Comiso, Sicily, and belonged to two subjects who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries and died respectively at 50 and 30 years. Finally, the most recent mummy (20th century) comes from Abruzzo and belonged to an unidentified individual of the poor class. The problem of atherosclerosis in Antiquity is a topic that has aroused much debate in recent times. Besides being a fascinating field of research, it has an important impact on modern medicine since atherosclerosis is among the most widespread pathologies in Western populations. The six investigated mummies have unequivocal findings attributable to atherosclerosis in varying degrees of severity. In some cases, the diagnosis was macroscopic, while for some mummies it was possible to perform histologic analyses of the arterial vessels. In conclusions these cases confirm that atherosclerosis is also a disease of ancient times. The presence of atherosclerosis in pre-contemporary individuals could suggest that the disease may not only be uniquely characteristic of a specific diet or lifestyle, but it could be also an inherent component of human ageing. Additional future surveys will help to clarify the history of this disease.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/933309
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