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Mom’s lessons – good and bad – inspire actress Elisabeth Rohm’s push to get women heart healthy

She's paying it forward to all she can, especially her 9-year-old daughter

Elisabeth Rohm (left) holding then-infant Easton, with her mom Lisa Loverde-Meyer (right). Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Rohm.

Lisa Loverde-Meyer was “a great hippie,” a free-spirited feminist who loved to think and write. One of her insights was to approach each day as if we’re buying it, not renting.

This meant treating life like an investment. That meant spending time to make the world a better place. Finding causes you support. Getting truly involved.

Lisa’s daughter grew up following this plan. Over the years, she’s taken on all sorts of projects and organizations that are meaningful to her. One of her most passionate causes is awareness of heart health among women – a message she sadly couldn’t get through to her mom.

Lisa’s daughter is Elisabeth Rohm, an actress you’ve probably seen on TV as assistant district attorney Serena Southerly on TV’s “Law & Order” and in movies alongside Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy” and “American Hustle.” Her new show “The Oath” premieres March 8 on Crackle.

Elisabeth joined the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement in 2011, a few months after Lisa died following a heart attack. Elisabeth quickly took on a starring role in spreading the world that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

She’s spoken in support of CPR training in Washington, D.C., and in China. She’s been part of unveiling CPR training kiosks at airports and hosted CPR training events at her home. And on Thursday night she’ll take part in the Red Dress Collection fashion show, marking her second appearance in this glitzy showcase that shines its spotlight brightest on women’s heart health.

“The Red Dress Collection brings together strong women with a strong voice advocating for other women,” she said. “We’re seeing women do that more in general, and this is a cause that directly touches women’s lives. We need to start meaningful conversations through this event.”

While the event gives Elisabeth another chance to “feel like a fairy princess,” she also embraces the opportunity to share her story – one that, unfortunately, is all too common.

For all of Lisa’s great traits, she had a major weakness. She failed to care for her body.

Lisa ate whatever and exercised never. She became overweight and sedentary.

Elisabeth, meanwhile, became an athlete long before she began acting, so she’s always emphasized being fit and healthy. She tried all she could to get her mom moving and-or eating better, but nothing worked.

Lisa also avoided doctors. Even when she was throwing up every day for nearly a week.

That turned out to be her body’s way of announcing a heart problem. By the time she reached a hospital, the damage was irreversible. Lisa died at age 60, leaving Elisabeth without her best friend and soul mate, and leaving Elisabeth’s then-2-year-old daughter Easton without her Grammy.

Lisa, Easton and Elisabeth. Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Rohm.

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“My mom prioritized her indulgences over her life,” Lisa said.

Two years later, Elisabeth lost her Aunt Lolly, Lisa’s sister, another strong, vibrant woman whose weakness was ignoring her health.

It makes sense that being active, eating right and minimizing stress are core parts of Elisabeth’s message to women. It’s also backed by science. Research shows that 80 percent of heart disease and stroke are preventable through healthy lifestyle choices, with the biggest being to avoid smoking.

Elisabeth also touts Hands-Only CPR because of how empowering it is. By knowing just two basic steps, you can save a life. If you see an adult collapse, call 911, then push hard and fast in the center of their chest, preferably to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive;” the disco classic offers both the perfect rhythm and name.

“We spend so much of our times with our loved ones,” Elisabeth said. “If you know CPR, you could save their life.”

Elisabeth using the Hands-Only CPR training kiosk at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Elisabeth was only 8 when heart disease first invaded her life.

Her dad was in his 40s when he suffered a heart attack. A triple bypass left him with a scar up and down his torso, but it gave him a second chance. He’s still alive.

Now 44, Elisabeth knows her family history puts her at a higher risk. She’s especially concerned about what it means for Easton, who is now 9.

“She sees me conducting myself in a healthy way because I’m committed to living,” Elisabeth said. “She also knows because of my mother and my aunt that there are consequences for not taking care of yourself.”

Easton is also seeing her mom treat life as a buyer, investing her time in the American Heart Association in hopes of making the world a better place.

“She doesn’t think, `Mom is going to New York for the Red Dress Collection because her mom died,’” Elisabeth said. “She sees me doing this as a message to inspire more heart-savvy, aware, healthy women.”

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