He was studying the arteries of 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummies, and he thought this was finally it: a culture that would be free of heart disease. Heart disease couldn't be more than 3,000 years old, could it?
Man, he was disappointed.
"The mummies had a great deal of atherosclerosis in their peripheral arteries," says Thomas, who directs the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial. "So our assumption was that plaque in arteries was a universal part of aging."
If the whole population shows this abnormal accumulation of arterial plaque, I'm going to assume that it's a genetic factor, primarily. I'd be interested to see comparative studies that contrast the Tsimane with their neighbors. If my stab in the dark is correct, groups that are closely related to the Tsimane, that have interbred with them should demonstrate reduction in 'vascular age.'