Under the leadership of Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, researchers unpacked 137 ancient mummies and subjected them to CT scans. They were looking for signs of atherosclerosis, which they found in one-third of the long-dead subjects. It's the same rate of the disease as we have in modern times.
The fact that 47 of the ancient mummies showed plaque build-up in the arteries blows up the commonly held idea that returning to a prehistoric diet would solve our health problems. It also casts doubt on the widely held assumption that it's largely the modern lifestyle that causes our high rates of cardiovascular disease. The medical community typically blames plaque build-up in the arteries on lack of exercise and a junk-food diet.
In a sense, whether heredity plays the greatest role in the development of plaque-buildup matters little. Even if heredity does make you more vulnerable to atherosclerosis, eating right and exercising likely diminishes the odds that you're going to clog your arteries and die. The inverse also is true: if you eat like Henry the VIII, you're probably going to clog your arteries and keel over whether you have heredity working for or against you. Study after study shows that following a healthy lifestyle prolongs life and that indulging in unhealthy habits shortens life. If you do have atherosclerosis in your family line, though, you might want to take extra precautions, like introducing proteolytic enzymes, raw foods, and Omega 3's to your regimen if you don't already take them.
As for the curse of the mummies, you can't really blame those ancient ones if they do return to haunt the researchers. Can you imagine waking up inside a CT machine 4000 years in the future and getting zapped by 200 times as much radiation as you'd get from a chest x-ray? And if those mummies do reanimate, they might be able to sue the physicians for inducing cancer, as CT scans can do.