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Tex Heart Inst J. 1993;20(4):252-7.

The paleopathology of the cardiovascular system.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, PA 19102.


Paleopathology, the study of disease in ancient remains, adds the dimension of time to our study of health and disease. The oldest preserved heart is from a mummified rabbit of the Pleistocene epoch, over 20,000 years old. Cardiovascular disease has been identified in human mummies from Alaska and Egypt, covering a time span ranging from approximately 3,000 to 300 years ago. An experimental study suggests that the potential exists for identifying a wide range of cardiovascular pathologic conditions in mummified remains. The antiquity and ubiquity of arteriosclerotic heart disease is considered in terms of pathogenesis.

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