The number of push-ups you can indicate your risk factor when it comes to cardiovascular disease, according to new research.
Each day in Australia, 119 people die as a result of cardiovascular disease. The main types of cardiovascular disease are coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure. Cardiovascular disease accounted for 27 per cent of all deaths in Australia in 2017, including 26 per cent for males and 28 per cent for females.
Now, a new Harvard study, published in JAMA Network Open, has found middle-aged men who can do more than 40 push-ups in one go have a 96 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who can do fewer than 10.
What’s more, dropping to the floor and showing your doctor how many push-ups you can do may be a better predicator of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes than traditional treadmill tests.
“Our findings provide evidence that push-up capacity could be an easy, no-cost method to help assess cardiovascular disease risk in almost any setting,” lead author Justin Yang said. “Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests.”
The researchers analysed the health data of 1,104 active middle-aged male firefighters over a 10-year-period. Their mean age was 39.6 and mean body mass index (BMI) was 28.7.
Their push-up capacity and treadmill exercise tolerance were measured at the start of the study, with each man then taking annual physical examinations and medical questionnaires.
During the study period, 37 of the men developed some type of cardiovascular disease, with “all but one” occurring in men who completed 40 or fewer push-ups in the baseline exam. Meanwhile, participants able to complete more than 40 push-ups had a 96 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
“This study emphasises the importance of physical fitness on health, and why clinicians should assess fitness during clinical encounters,” senior author Stefanos Kales said.
The authors noted that because the study population consisted of middle-aged, occupationally active men, the results may not be generalisable to women or men of other ages or who are less active.
The findings come among a big week of news for heart health with the Heart Foundation Australia launching a new online tool to help people understand their risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Most people are already aware of heart attack warning signs including chest pain, chest pressure and discomfort, but the new Heart Age Calculator differs by comparing a person’s heart age to their actual age.
The tool is a new way to help people aged between 35 and 75 understand their own risks and offers advice on what they can do next. It’s designed for people who don’t have a known history of heart issues and works by asking questions around their age, gender, smoking and diabetes status, BMI, blood pressure levels, medication use, cholesterol levels and family history of stroke and heart attack.
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