I am
Q&A with Dr Caleb Ferguson
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Q&A with Dr Caleb Ferguson

An education program to promote self-care for people living with atrial fibrillation (INFORM-AF)

Dr Caleb Ferguson is a Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Western Sydney Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre.  He holds a joint appointment at Western Sydney University and Western Sydney Local Health District. Dr Ferguson is a registered nurse with over 10 years’ clinical experience caring for people with stroke and other neurological and cardiovascular conditions.

Dr Caleb Ferguson’s research focuses on patient-centred approaches to the management of atrial fibrillation, stroke prevention and digital health.

What are you currently researching?

My Heart Foundation fellowship identifies the educational and self-management needs of people living with atrial fibrillation (the most common heart rhythm disorder). We partner with people living with atrial fibrillation clinicians and key stakeholders to co-design and co-produce a mobile health education program. The program aims to inform people about their condition and how to manage it. The education program will involve interactive case studies and questions and be delivered to people via smart-phones. This program will be trialled and evaluated in Western Sydney.

What difference will your research make to people’s cardiovascular health in Australia?

It's hoped that our research will enhance people’s knowledge of atrial fibrillation, including the risk reduction strategies and the treatment options that are available. It’s hoped that in the long term, this will improve a person’s quality of life, help them to manage their condition, and keep them out of hospital.

What motivated you to do your research?

I have worked clinically as a registered nurse for over 10 years with people who come into hospital with stroke. Atrial fibrillation is a major risk factor for having a stroke. I often witnessed first-hand, the life-changing and devastating impacts of stroke. Yet, many of these atrial fibrillation-related strokes are highly preventable. I see the problem as threefold:

1) better screening and detection of atrial fibrillation
2) improving treatment with medicines and lifestyle interventions 
3) interventions that support self-management over a person’s life.  

My doctoral research focused on:

  • Improving how anticoagulation medicines (medicines which prevent blood clots) are prescribed

  • How to encourage people to keep taking their medicines.

  • The better atrial fibrillation is managed, the less people will experience stroke and other life-changing consequences of the condition.

Are there any achievements or discoveries from your research you can share with us?

Over the last 12 months, I've been elected a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology and a Fellow of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand. I was also appointed as the Cardiovascular Nursing Editor of Heart, Lung & Circulation (a journal that publishes cardiovascular disease research); it is a real privilege to serve in this role.

I was thrilled to receive a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant, which is a five year grant (2021-2026) This grant will extend my current Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship program of research and will enable me to further evaluate the INFORM-AF intervention, and how the findings can be put into practice.

I am currently wrapping up a research project that examines the design and application of wearable heart monitoring technologies in practice. This work highlights the pitfalls in design from people and clinicians’ perspectives. It reinforces the need to partner with people who are likely to use the technology when designing devices, to ensure they are useful and practical in everyday life.

Do you have a message for Heart Foundation supporters?

Thank you for your generous donations and support. Since my Heart Foundation award, I have been partnering with people and clinicians in the co-design of a new educational and self-management program for atrial fibrillation. I've also been successful in securing five years’ future funding from the NHMRC to build and strengthen this research and to enable robust evaluation and the ability to put the findings into practice. I appreciate your support and commitment to cardiovascular nursing research in Australia. Together we can make a positive impact to improve the quality of life for people living with atrial fibrillation and to help fight the devastating consequences of stroke.

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Information on how air pollution, heatwaves and bushfires can impact heart health, and what you can do to look after yourself. ...

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Moroccan spiced fish with couscous and raisin salad

Moroccan spiced fish with couscous and raisin salad

10 minutes
Serves 4

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Our Heart Maps allow you to take a closer look at heart disease indicators across Australia....

Heart Week

Heart Week

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

With immediate help a cardiac arrest can be survived. Learn how to save a life....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

For professionals: Online education and training

For professionals: Online education and training

Online courses for health professionals focused on improving cardiovascular care. ...

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Keeping your blood cholesterol at a healthy level can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions. ...

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

Heart Health Checks have been supported by Medicare since April 2019....

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Information about commonly prescribed heart medicines. ...

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy is something you can work on every day. ...

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Making philanthropic investments through the Heart Foundation can transform Australians’ health. ...

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Absolute CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach that estimates the cumulative risk of multiple risk factors to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next five years....

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Find heart healthy chicken recipes....

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Heart healthy breakfasts to start your day right...

Guidelines for the assessment and management of Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Guidelines for the assessment and management of Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Guidelines for the assessment and management of Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Position Description: Consumer Representative for the update of the Guidelines for the assessment and management of Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk ...

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Find heart healthy lamb recipes....

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

Partner with us to help us fight for Australian hearts....

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Moving more every day is one of the best habits you can have....

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

The Heart Foundation Research Program

The Heart Foundation Research Program

The Heart Foundation Research Program

We are Australia’s biggest non-government funder of world-class research into heart health. Learn more about our high impact research. ...

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...