Fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, racing heartbeats.
These uncomfortable symptoms are part of life for people living with atrial fibrillation, or AF — but Blacktown Hospital nurse researcher Dr Caleb Ferguson is using smart phones to improve people’s quality of life this Heart Week.
AF is the most common heart rhythm disorder and happens when the upper valves beat out of order from the lower valves, causing a range of frightening and uncomfortable symptoms.
It affects roughly 500,000 people in Australia and every case is different. Episodes can occur randomly and last for seconds, minutes, hours or days.
Dr Ferguson focuses on the education and engagement of patients with atrial fibrillation and heart rhythm disorders. His research centres on optimising the use of new technologies for detection of AF, and to support self-management of their condition.
“Many patients can live without signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation, so screening and detection is of critical importance, particularly for those aged over 65 years.”Dr Caleb Ferguson
“We know that once someone is diagnosed with AF it is important to get the right medications and continue to take these as recommended by your health professional. New technologies can help support care across the continuum, including screening and diagnosis, optimising prescription of evidence based medications, supporting patients to make decisions about treatment choices, and supporting them with self-management in the long-term.”
Dr Ferguson is leading a study titled ’INFORM-AF’ which aims to enable patients to monitor their health using a smartphone app and support their self-management in the long term.
He believes these measures can improve self-care practices, quality of life and reduce potentially avoidable hospitalisations, for people living with atrial fibrillation and the help prevent stroke.
“Real innovation occurs when my collaborators, end-users, and consumers and I can meet close to the best health research facilities in Australia, working closely with technology specialists, University and Local Health District researchers and hospital-based specialists to address these serious heart health challenges,” Dr Ferguson said.
Dr Caleb Ferguson is an atrial fibrillation nurse researcher affiliated with the new Westmead Innovation Quarter and a Senior Research Fellow, NHMRC Emerging Leader Fellow, and Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow from the Western Sydney Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre (Western Sydney University School of Nursing and Midwifery and Western Sydney Local Health District) and the Translational Health Research Institute (THRI), and MARCS Institute for Brain Behaviour and Development.