The research, which was performed by Harvard University - who usually tend to know what they are talking about - found that heart disease risk over a ten year period was reduced by 97 percent in men who could do upwards of 40 press-ups.
"I think also, one can be unhealthy, then get healthy and start working out, and reduce one's cardiovascular risk factors (better blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin levels, weight) - so it makes sense that push-ups, which reflect resistance training and fitness, are a good marker of cardiovascular risk", Higgins noted.
The more push-ups these emergency responders could do, the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events over the next 10 years, with a 15% cumulative incidence among those who could do up to 10 compared with 5% or lower among those who could complete more, Stefanos Kales, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues found in the longitudinal cohort.
Their mean age was 39.6 and mean body mass index (BMI) was 28.7.
'This study emphasises the importance of physical fitness on health, and why clinicians should assess fitness during clinical encounters'. They also filled out health questionnaires and underwent physical exams.
The researchers broke the men into five groups, based on increments of 10 push-ups, and ran the numbers to see if their push-up capacity accurately predicted heart problems.
'Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests'.
Even so, doctors are likely to continue relying on stress treadmill tests as a measure of heart health, said Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
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.
Since the study population consisted of middle-aged, occupationally active men, the results may not be generalisable to women or to men of other ages or who are less active, note the authors. Kales suspects there would be a similar relationship, but it might have to be measured differently.
A new study claims the more pushups a man can do, the lower is his risk of getting heart disease.
Push-ups may be a good proxy for physical fitness that is associated with better long-term cardiovascular health, according to a study of male firefighters.
Mintz recommends the "rule of fours" to his patients.