How can I convince my father to have coronary bypass surgery?

8 answers | Last updated: Nov 05, 2014
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 72-year-old father had a heart attack, and an angiogram showed that he needs bypass surgery as soon as possible. But he just won't do it. He says that he's sure he won't be the same person he is now, that his life will never be the same. If he doesn't have the surgery, the doctor says he'll probably die. What can we do to convince him to have the operation?

Expert Answers

Dr. Mary Whooley studies the connection between depression and cardiac outcomes at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and UCSF.

It’s understandable that you want your father to have the surgery. Bypass surgery can definitely extend the lives of some patients with heart disease. However, surgery also has its own dangers, so patients must weigh the risks and benefits for themselves. If your father says he'll never be the same person, he probably won't be. People who go through this kind of procedure really do need to believe that the surgery will help.

You could try helping your father get more information about the operation, or have him talk to other patients who have had bypass surgery. However, I don't think your father should have a bypass just because his family thinks he should. I don't know the details of your father's heart disease, but some patients can live a long time with very bad hearts. Having a bypass is a big risk, and cognitive changes can occur after surgery. If your father really feels that he doesn't want the operation, it's his decision.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Please get a copy of "The RAVE diet and Life Style" by Michael Anderson (Google it) The best one liner on the DVD is by a Dr and the Mayo Clinic who told by his colleges that he had to go for heart surgery IMEDIATELY or die, " It is against my religion" What is your Religion? "I am a devout coward" Your Father is correct. Get him this and watch him recover in a month.

Donald Sheldon

Brennerdon answered...

I have had a triple bypass and feel much better than before. I can Breath better and do things without becoming short of breath.

Uncle joe answered...

It is highly unlikely the doctors advising surgery and highligting the urgency are doing it for monetary gain for themselves or their prestige enhancement. You need support to be assertive and get your father professional advice/support to find out what else he fears and educate him to risks but against negative expectations of outcomes. Some people die in such situation after or during surgery who expected the worst. There are good studies evidencing that. The approach you want to take with him is using the "I statements". You say you are concerned, worried, that he may risk worst then the risks of surgery if he decide against it. Ask how can he help you not to feel this way and the frustration you feel he does not take the chance to be better and extend his life you very much want him to. He may came up with excuses instead of good reasons to consider. It is impossible for you to accept his refusal without both of you also knowing the risk assessment. Gaining an educated heart will make it bit easier. Your dad I dare-say need spiritual support and education urgently too. It is often fear of death (realistic) and other concerns they don't talk about. Expressing your love and concern for him focusing "it is your problem" (not his) it is harder for him to sidestep. If all fails you need maximum support for your dealing with his reluctance and possible adverse outcome. Some of the reasons for his objections can be valid. But the objections need to be put on the table. May your God go with you! Be well!

Busjock answered...

I'm 70 and had a triple bypass 5 years ago. Piece of cake! I went to sleep and then woke up again- all done! I've been fine since, and a walk and jog 2 miles / day. I also play the trumpet in 3 bands, and have NEVER had any problem or complications;.

don't put it off., DO IT! Trust me: It's OK and it WORKS. I'm not disabled and still kickin but at 71!

Eecp answered...

I'd suggest educating yourself on the pros and cons of bypass. Once you're done, you may change your mind. There are so many alternatives with much more room for recovery and zero risks. CoQ10 in high doses, L-Carnitine, Hawthorne, Cayenne, Vitamin C, D-Ribose, Vitamin E, D and fish oil. Please also look into naturally getting his blood circulating with a treatment called EECP.

Good Luck and God Bless.

Karencheeks answered...

It is natural for any person to feel scared about surgery. If bypass surgery is the last thing he needs to survive, I don't see why he wouldn't want it. Maybe you need to explain more about the surgery. If you need to see another doctor for other options, try They helped a lot of patients who had heart surgery.

Ruthreynolds193 answered...

Are you sure that’s the only reason why he wouldn’t want to undergo surgery? I think it is best if you will help him understand the procedure DEEPLY. You can even entice him to travel abroad, have a surgery and at the same time take a vacation (or what they call medical tourism).

Here’s a list of medical centers that you can choose from: