Dr Michael Seman researched the impact of English language proficiency among patients with acute heart failure – and was disturbed by the results.

He is sharing his findings in a bid to encourage more people to donate to research at Western Health through the Greatest Need Project.

The western suburbs are home to some of the highest rates of heart failure in Melbourne – and new research has pinpointed the most at-risk group.

Patients with limited English have a 22 per cent chance of representing to hospital with acute heart failure within 180 days of their first episode, as opposed to 15 per cent who are proficient in the language, a Western Health study has found.

The findings emerged from research at Footscray and Sunshine Hospitals in 2016 by cardiology registrar Dr Michael Seman, who said the causes needed exploration for the gap to be closed.

Dr Seman said mapping by the Heart Foundation identified the Western Metropolitan Melbourne region as having one of the highest risks for heart failure across the greater Melbourne area. There were more than 1200 admissions at Western Health in 2016, a dramatic increase from 800 in 2013.

Dr Seman studied the most vulnerable cohort of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients for the study last year, tracking the rate of rehospitalisation and emergency department visitation after discharge, compared to fluent-speaking patients.

He said he first noticed a difference in readmission rates among CALD patients in the Cardio-Geriatric model of care research project, carried out by the cardiology department in 2015.

“The complexity of healthcare is increasing, particularly in the management of chronic diseases such as heart failure – and this is further complicated by communication barriers, cultural differences and poorer health literacy,” he said.

“With this group in particular, the problem has a lot to do with communication between the health care providers and the patient, and the patient’s ability to understand and then self-manage when they return home.”

He said further research was needed, with plans for a state-wide study with more than 30,000 patients, to examine the impact of cultural and linguistic diversity on health outcomes of those hospitalised with heart failure.

Dr Seman is hoping the combined research will ultimately help drive policy change and improve the quality of healthcare provision for minority groups in the community.

The Greatest Need Project is an online story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research, at Western Health.

As a staff member, Dr Michael Seman is sharing his story in bid to boost funds for research.

By making a donation on Dr Seman’s behalf – and sharing his story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.

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