Pyramids of Giza
Oldest case of heart failure discovered in Egyptian mummy Reuters

The oldest ever case of chronic heart failure has been discovered in an ancient Egyptian mummy. Nebiri – or Chief of Stables – was first found by Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1904 and the remains are currently held at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy.

Nebiri's head and internal organs were held in caopic jars and researchers have now analysed to remains to find out what he died from. The team, from the University of Turin, announced their findings at the international congress of Egyptology in Florence.

The scientists said Nebiri was between 45-60 years old when he died. Tomography tests and a 3D skull reconstruction showed he was affected by a severe gum disease with huge abscesses, Discovery News reports.

"The head is almost completely unwrapped, but in a good state of preservation. Since the canopic jar inscribed for Hapy, the guardian of the lungs, is partially broken, we were allowed direct access for sampling," anthropologist Raffaella Bianucci is quoted as saying.

Scans show there was an attempt to remove the brain but a large amount of tissue was left. They also found calcification in the right internal carotid artery, suggesting mild atherosclerosis. Most notably, however, they found a pulmonary oedema and "heart failure cells".

Testing helped the team rule out diseases like tuberculosis and mycobacterial infections, leading them to conclude Nebiri died from acute decompensation of chronic left-sided heart failure – a consequence of heart disease. "Our finding represents the oldest evidence for chronic heart failure in mummified remains," Bianucci said.