The Skeletons with Heart Disease

My article this week was about the researchers from an earlier blog post that I wrote who found the first human remains of someone who had cancer. This week, the same researchers found the first group of skeletons (According to the article, the group consists of three females and two males who here between the ages of 35 and 50 years old; the normal age range that people start  to develop heart disease and stroke) who had atherosclerosis, the thickening of the wall of one’s arteries with plaque.  As these plaque harden, they block your arteries  that make it hard for blood to move through your body. This also according to the article, is one of the main causes of heart attacks and strokes.  In the  past, since there has not been a lot of remains found with this condition, this can shed some new light on the history and evolution of heart disease and stroke. This discovery will also shed some light on the causes of heart disease and stroke and compare them to the causes today and in turn show scientists the way in which these diseases have changed throughout the centuries. This will then lead researchers and scientists to predict how the symptoms of  heart disease and stroke  might change, what they could evolve to and the new ways in which these illnesses could be treated and prevented in the future. Once again, the importance of archaeology is highlighted here in the article. In order to learn about our present and to change the future, we must learn about  the past especially when it comes to diseases since they evolve just as human do. If we can figure out what the causes of heart disease and stroke were back then, it will give us a better understanding of the diseases today which could also make a gateway for understanding other diseases such as obesity and diabetes since today, they all have similar risk factors.

3 thoughts on “The Skeletons with Heart Disease

  1. First off, and also kind of a random tangent, I really like how you are doing a follow up post to something you read and wrote about earlier. Back to the actual article though. This is exactly the kind of thing I find most interesting. Finding remains that show signs of heart disease and stroke is amazing. I do not quite understand how they were able to determine that these bodies had this condition, but it is an amazing discovery nevertheless. My real fascination, however, is for the potential benefits this discovery could have on modern medicine. Or at least information on how the disease came about. I find that I have to keep reminding myself that archaeology is not just pot pieces and foundations, which you would think I would understand after a whole semester of this class! (I constantly find my thoughts drifting towards an Indiana Jones way of thinking). The possible benefits from archaeological research could aid more than just our understanding of the past, but can also give us valuable perceptions about the modern world as well. And one of the coolest things about it, is that there is new information to be found every day.

  2. I simply love reading about discoveries like this. It is definitely one reason why, as an anthropology major, I am so drawn to the skeletal system and all of the clues that bones can retain after so many years. I also posted about the skeleton found with evidence of cancer. When first reading your post, all I could think was, “Wow, these lucky scientists! Their lives have been made! Twice!” As I hope to also possibly work with skeletal remains in the future, I can only hope and dream that something so monumental as discovering evidence of cancer and heart disease on a set of remains were to happen to me. But it does give hope for future anthropologists like myself. I do believe that with the advances in technology, more discoveries of such sorts can be made. Such discoveries have potential to give way to even bigger revelations about the lives of our ancestors may help us understand more about the diseases that still plague us today. Unfortunately, as with most mainstream news sites, it is hard to get the more finite details of such discoveries such as how this evidence was able to remain on the bones after all the soft tissue has left. I suppose those who are truly intrigued have to delve deeper to find the actual articles and facts.

  3. I think this is a very interesting article and blog post because of its interdisciplinary nature. I am a finance major and am doing my engaged archaeology project on how archaeology can help us understand how economies worked ages and ages before our current economy today. This blog post falls in the same vein. It shows that archaeology can not only help us learn more about people and cultures, but about hard sciences as well. Not only can we learn from it, but we can use this knowledge to help our medical research so we can benefit people who are still living today. It is interesting that you mentioned that this can help us not only learn about the causes of heart disease but also explore whether these causes are the same causes that exist today. That is where archaeology can really come in handy. By putting these skeletons in a cultural context we can see what may have led them to suffer from heart disease, and determine whether these factors are still relevant today. I am curious as to where these skeletons were found. Is it part of a culture that has customs that are similar to western customs or is it somewhere not very relatable to us?

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