A history of heart disease runs in Elisabeth Rohm’s family. "When I was 10-years-old, I got a call from my mom saying, 'Your dad had a heart attack,'” recalls the actress. “He had a triple bypass, and he was very young, in his 40s." Her mother and aunt would go on to die of heart attacks in their 60s. "It's on both sides of my family,” she sums, “so I really have to be conscious."

STAYIN' ALIVE: Using Hands-Only CPR, an individual can double or triple someone's chance of survival, and making it a requirement of high school graduates broadens the number of hands available when a crisis occurs. Photos: Brandon Wade

Passing the word

For Rohm, that means being vigilant about her health. "I get checked annually and I try to eat healthy," she says. "I have a 7-year-old daughter, and I'd really l like to live long enough to know my grandchildren. One of the biggest pains in my life is that my mother didn’t know my daughter and my daughter doesn't know my mother or my aunt."

Rohm is dedicated to spreading the word about CPR, and is part of a continued effort to make CPR training a requirement for high school graduation (it currently is in 27 states). She's especially excited about working with the American Heart Association’s Hands-Only CPR, which solely requires chest compressions and will soon even be taught in airport kiosks. "If you know the basics of CPR,” says Rohm, “you can double or triple someone's chance of survival."

HANDS ON: With a family history of heart disease, Rohm is advocating for all-around health, watching what she and her family eat, getting checked regularly and practicing CPR.

Rohm points out the Hands-Only method is easy enough for a child to do. "People think they ‘don't have the time to learn’ and ‘what can they do?’ They're not medical professionals," she says. "But it's very simple. You make hard compressions to the center of the chest to the beat of the 'Stayin’ Alive' disco song.

“So if you see somebody collapse,” Rohm goes on, “don't panic. Don't run around in circles. You can call 911, and then you can do something about it." Given that 70 percent of heart attacks take place in the home, there's a chance you can save someone you love. "Neither my stepfather or my uncle were trained in CPR, and it breaks my heart."