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  • Dec 29, 2019

Study on Push-ups and Heart Health Led by CHA Physician Is Most Viewed on JAMA Network in 2019

Research published in JAMA Network Open by Stefanos Kales, MD, MPH, division chief of occupational and environmental medicine at CHA and a professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was the most viewed study among JAMA's network of journals in 2019. More than 500 000 people accessed the study, which looked at push-up capacity among 1104 US male firefighters.

As we get older, maintaining the capacity to do more consecutive push-ups might help assess our fitness levels and provide a "quick and dirty" assessment of future health. Dr. Kales’ study concluded that middle-aged men who were able to complete more than 40 consecutive push-ups had a significantly lower risk (96%) of incident cardiovascular disease during 10 years of follow-up versus those who were able to do fewer push-ups, par than 10 during the benchmark test. But those who could do 11-20 push-ups had a 75% reduction in CVD risk.

Cardiovascular disease is linked to major health events such as heart failure, stroke and coronary artery disease. The illness refers to symptoms that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the premier cause of death among men in the United States. In 2013, one in four deaths in men was caused by heart disease.

"This study emphasizes the importance of physical fitness on health, and why clinicians should assess fitness during clinical encounters," said Dr. Kales. The study concludes that push-ups might be a beneficial method for providers to determine cardiovascular disease risk during medical appointments.

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