Red: The Colour with Heart

| Bringing colour back to 2021

Adult and child hands holding red heart

Red: The Colour with Heart

Welcome to the first post in our Colours Campaign, a special series to celebrate the new year and harness the transformative power of colour. As promised, we’re kicking things off with RED, a bold and passionate hue that always makes us feel alive. February also happens to be Heart Month, an opportunity to focus on the organ that keeps our lifeblood flowing.

The power of red

Red evokes many strong feelings. Think of how this colour appears in everyday life: as a warning (stop, danger, urgent, fire), to signify love or passion (hearts, roses, Valentine’s Day cards) or to symbolize anger, energy, power or confidence. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes good fortune, happiness and prosperity. In India, it represents purity, fertility and prosperity. In other cultures,, red may signify strength, loudness, authority, revolution or even death.

Without a doubt, red is a dominant colour that carries a great deal of meaning. The human heart also plays an outsize role in our collective consciousness. We often use it as a symbol of caring, compassion, sympathy, jealousy or desire. Think of all the expressions that mention the heart: “From the bottom of my heart.” “My heart goes out to you.” “Let’s have a heart-to-heart.” “With a heavy heart.” “Change of heart.” “Follow your heart.” (And many more!) In our minds, the colour red and the human heart – two things steeped in emotion and significance – are profoundly entwined.

Love your heart

Your heart is an amazing organ, and a hard worker. It beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping more than 7,000 litres of blood. The heart does its job so well that we tend not to think about it much – until there’s a problem.

Heart disease is a major issue in Canada – it’s the second leading cause of death (after cancer). The most common type is coronary artery and vascular disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when the heart’s arteries become narrow or blocked, impeding blood flow. It is the cause of most heart attacks, as well as angina, or chest pain. Vascular disease involves problems in other blood vessels, which in turn reduce blood flow to the heart.

Warning signs of a heart attack

If you experience or witness these signs, seek emergency help immediately:

  • Chest discomfort (pressure, squeezing, fullness, pain, heaviness, burning)
  • Discomfort in the upper body (neck, jaw, shoulders, back and arms)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Light-headedness

Reducing your risk

According to Heart & Stroke, nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease (and stroke). Certain risk factors we can’t control, but many others we can do something about. “Almost 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through healthy behaviours,” says Heart & Stroke.

Non-modifiable risk factors

  • Sex: Women have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke after menopause. (Read more about women and heart disease.)
  • Age: The risk of heart disease increases with age.
  • Family history: If a close relative had heart disease at an early age, your risk is increased.
  • Ethnicity: People who have South Asian, African or Indigenous heritage are at higher risk of heart disease.

Modifiable risk factors

You can take action starting today. Talk to your physician about your personal risk factors for heart disease and stroke and what you can do to change them.

Additional resources

Heart & Stroke: Learn about different types of heart disease and their treatments. You’ll also find heart-healthy recipes, tips on staying active, and more.

Canada’s Food Guide: The guide got a major makeover in 2019 – have you seen the changes?

Canadian Lung Association: Get helpful information about quitting smoking.

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines: Learn about safer drinking and setting limits.

Bayshore Home Health offers a wide range of home care services to help Canadians live independently for as long as possible. Call 1-877-289-3997 for details.