Harold on History: An Historical Perspective on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
Diabetes can be considered a cardiovascular disease and is a major risk factor and determinant for the development of vascular disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among patients with type 2 diabetes. Adults with diabetes, compared with those without, are two- to four-times more likely to have cardiovascular disease. A major health epidemic, nearly 30 million children and adults, or 10 percent of Americans, have diabetes. It is estimated that the number of Americans with diabetes will triple by 2050, in part driven by the obesity epidemic.
Diabetes has been recognized since antiquity, but the pathogenesis has only been understood experimentally since 1900. The first known reference to diabetes was by the Egyptian physician Hesy-ra, who described “excessive urination,” which is included in the Ebers Papyrus. This Egyptian medical papyrus is a 110-page scroll that dates to 1550 BCE and was found in the Thebes necropolis near modern day Luxor in the Nile River Valley. The papyrus was purchased by the German Egyptologist Georg Ebers (1837-1898), who published a facsimile in English and Latin in 1875. The original is preserved in the library of the University of Leipzig in Germany. The Ebers Papyrus contains numerous herbal medical remedies including a recommendation “…to eliminate urine which is too plentiful…” by consuming wheat grains, fruit and sweet beer.
The term diabetes was coined by Apollonius of Memphis (250 BCE) from the Greek word meaning siphon – to pass through – after noting the frequent urination seen in these p Continue reading