There are many risk factors for coronary artery disease (which is what your father had if he needed coronary artery bypass grafting). Although it is true that a family history of this increases your risk for it, given that your father is 74 years old is a positive! If he didn't have any heart attacks before the age of 60 your risk is not that much greater with just this one factor. Other equally important risk factors are more under your control and these are the ones you and your health care provider should try your best to minimize. Smoking, high cholesterol more specifically high LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol) levels, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, and high stress are all "controllable" risk factors. YOU can quit smoking, talk with your health care provider about your numbers (your blood pressure and LDL and HDL levels and even your glucose levels), walk 30 minutes a day every day, and breathe deeply more frequently and decrease your risk of cardiac disease. Talk to your health care provider about your concern and make him/her a partner on your quest to a healthier heart!
KathyLee Santangelo, MD