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.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Research Directory

Research Directory

How we work

How we work

How we work

One Heart, One Team...

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Discover what you need to know about being active after a heart attack....

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

Resources for providing best practice cardiovascular care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples....

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

Running has been an important part of Boyd's life, so imagine his shock when a heart condition he had never heard of threatened to put a stop to it. ...

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

What does a heart-friendly diet look like?...

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia where your heart beats irregularly and fast....

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Resources to help people follow a heart healthy eating pattern in their daily lives. ...

test page

test page

test page

test page...

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

1 hour
Serves 6

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

This webinar discusses the role of practice nurses in conducting heart health checks...

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track. ...

Physical activity resources for patients and consumers

Physical activity resources for patients and consumers

Physical activity information for professionals...

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a condition where your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be....

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Serves Makes 350g | (Serves 8 – about 2 tablespoons - 44g)

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

What are the best sources of protein when it come to your heart health...

Improving heart health for all Australians

Improving heart health for all Australians

Improving heart health for all Australians

Guidelines for the assessment and management of Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk ...

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts is a six-episode series interviewing young people with lived experience of heart conditions and talking through advice for supporting emotional health and well-being....

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

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

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...