All in the family--What to do if there's heart disease in your family

What should you do if a close relative of yours is diagnosed with coronary disease?
This question came up recently with a patient of mine. The patient--a strapping, 47 year old businessman who looked the absolute picture of health--was undergoing bypass surgery. Although I'd met him for the purposes of plaque reversal, he was already having symptoms and his stress test was flagrantly abnormal, all discovered after a heart scan score of 765. On the day after the patient's bypass, the patient's brother came to me. Understandably concerned about his own health, he asked what he should do. The answer: get a heart scan.
Measure the disease with the easiest test available. If his heart scan score is zero, great--he's at exceptionally low (near zero) risk for heart attack. A modest program of long-term prevention is all that's necessary. What if his score is like his brother, should he get in line for his bypass? No, absolutely not! But he will need two things: 1) a stress test to ascertain whether or not he's safe (60% likelihood a stress test would be normal), and 2) an effort to determine how the heck he got so much plaque. (We favor lipoprotein testing, of course, for greatest diagnostic certainty.)
Message: Learn from the lessons your own family provides. Don't let this valuable information go to waste.