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

Q&A with Dr Susie Cartledge

Breaking down the silos - a pathway from acute hospital care to cardiac rehabilitation

Dr Susie Cartledge is a registered nurse with a background in cardiac and emergency care. She is also a passionate basic and advanced life support instructor. In 2014, Dr Cartledge undertook a PhD to investigate basic life support training for family members of people living with cardiovascular disease.

Dr Susie Cartledge received a Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2020. “This fellowship enables me to continue undertaking my cardiac rehabilitation research. Cardiac rehabilitation is critical for people to attend to reduce the risk of another cardiac event, decrease hospitalisations, improve heart health, and most importantly improve quality of life. “My research aims to improve referral and uptake by providing a pathway for people as they transition from the acute hospital setting to cardiac rehabilitation.”

What are you currently researching?

Cardiovascular disease requires lifelong management to decrease the chance of repeat cardiac events and improve quality of life. Education and skills to manage heart health are learnt in hospital and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation programs. These programs have been proven to help people with cardiovascular disease live a long and healthy life. These programs usually start 4-6 weeks after coming home from hospital. However, awareness of cardiac rehabilitation is low and not everyone who could benefit is referred and attends. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of support for people as they transition between inpatient and outpatient settings.

My research aims to provide support to people in the time between leaving hospital and starting cardiac rehabilitation. In collaboration with consumers, I will co-design new digital interventions to address this gap. These interventions will then be tested in a randomised trial.

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

Each year, approximately 390,000 people fail to receive the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). This can put them at increased risk of recurrent heart attacks, hospitalisations, decreased quality of life and even death. Improving access and attendance at cardiac rehabilitation will improve patient outcomes. If uptake of cardiac rehabilitation increased to 60% (from the current low rate of 30%), there would be 823 less hospital stays and an additional 536 lives would be saved over 10 years (International Journal of Cardiology).

What motivated you to do your research?

As a registered nurse with over 15 years’ experience working on cardiac wards, I was  aware of how important it is to deliver education and organise follow up appointments and referrals for people in hospital to ensure they receive the best possible care.

My doctoral research gave me the opportunity to listen to people with cardiovascular disease and their families. I wanted to understand their hospital experiences and their difficulties in accessing care after discharge. Hearing their stories inspired me to improve the way we deliver care. - We need to support people affected by cardiovascular disease and make it easier for them to access and undertake cardiac rehabilitation.

Are there any discoveries from the past year from your research you can share with us?

A study that I am working on now is investigating how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted cardiac rehabilitation in Victoria.

We found that the pandemic brought cardiac rehabilitation delivery into the 21st century. Delivering cardiac rehabilitation via telehealth works and there was a very sudden change in this model of care becoming more available. Both health professionals and participants have adapted well, but there are ongoing issues to address moving forward. For example, telehealth improves access so more people can participate in cardiac rehabilitation, which is great, but we need to be aware more health professionals may be needed to run the programs. While delivery of cardiac rehabilitation via telehealth will continue, it is now timely to review models of care and plan how to integrate telehealth alongside face-to-face programs. Offering choice in service models is key.

What role has Heart Foundation funding had in your career journey?

Without funding from the Heart Foundation, I would not have been able to continue my research. This funding allows me to lead and coordinate the research and helps me to build my track record as an early career researcher. This means I can continue on this path and find solutions to help more people living with cardiovascular disease.

Do you have a message for Heart Foundation supporters?

Thank you so much for your support. By supporting research, you are helping to improve cardiovascular disease care in Australia.

On one nursing shift, I can only care for a small number of people. But through research, I can improve care for thousands of Australians. Your support can make a big difference.

You might also be interested in

The Heart Foundation Alumni Program

The Heart Foundation Alumni Program

The Heart Foundation Alumni Program

Stay connected with your research alumni community. ...

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL CLINICAL TRIALS ...

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Explore our research award recipients and projects...

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Resources to help manage your grant, scholarship or fellowship....

2021 NSW CVRN Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research

2021 NSW CVRN Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research

Nominations are now open for the 2021 NSW Cardiovascular Research Network’s (CVRN) Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research....

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

We fund amazing researchers who have important stories to tell...

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW ...

3 Minute Research Competition Terms & Conditions

3 Minute Research Competition Terms & Conditions

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

QCVRN provides a framework to strengthen cardiovascular research in Queensland...

Research Directory

Research Directory

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

How we work

How we work

How we work

One Heart, One Team...

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Pregnancy and heart disease

Pregnancy and heart disease

Information and resources for health professionals....

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

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

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. ...

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Workplace giving for employees

Workplace giving for employees

Workplace giving for employees

Your employer’s workplace giving program makes it easy to setup regular, tax-deductible donations from your pre-tax income. ...

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Find heart healthy lamb recipes....

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

One of the most powerful ways to help support a future without heart disease is to include a gift to the Heart Foundation in your Will...

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Explore our research award recipients and projects...

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

15 minutes
Serves 2

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood pressure monitoring at home using a 24-hour blood pressure monitor test....

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....

State based advocacy

State based advocacy

State based advocacy activity supporting local communities...

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 ...

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Improving the design of our cities, towns, streets and buildings makes it easier for Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....

Meatloaf

Meatloaf

40-50 minutes
Serves 6

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

The program works with local communities to help improve heart health in the Pilbara....

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Physical activity resources for school staff....

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Like men, women can be diagnosed with a range of heart conditions....

Moroccan chickpea tagine

Moroccan chickpea tagine

25-40 minutes
Serves 4

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

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

Pumpkin falafel wraps

Pumpkin falafel wraps

Pumpkin falafel wraps

10 minutes
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

1 hour
Serves 6

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...