HealthLink on Air

Sundays at 9 p.m.
  • Hosted by Linda Cohen

“HealthLink on Air” is a 60-minute program produced since 2006 by Upstate Medical University, the academic medical center in Syracuse, NY.

“HealthLink on Air” provides a weekly dose of information on health and medical issues affecting central New Yorkers. The program showcases health professionals and researchers from Upstate Medical University, Upstate University Hospital, the central New York community and those visiting the region who are involved with health care issues and events. The interviews are permanently archived online.

For more information, visit the HealthLink on Air website.

Ways to Connect

This week: nutrition, obesity and cholesterol

Feb 4, 2016

Ensuring proper nutrition for senior citizens involves looking at changes in both body and lifestyle, say two registered dietitian nutritionists at Upstate University Hopsital.

Decreases in muscle mass, bone density and sense of smell, coupled with physical illness or depression, contribute to diminished appetite and calories needed, say Carrie Carlton and Cecilia Sansone. Among their prescriptions are a varied diet of nutrient-rich foods tailored to the individual, sufficient fluids and several small meals as an alternative to three main meals.

This week: Lyme disease and adrenal gland surgery

Jan 30, 2016

Prevention is the best way to control Lyme disease, by dressing properly for the outdoors, checking skin afterward and quickly and carefully removing any ticks.

On this week's show, Dr. Caitlin Sgarlet and Dr. Jana Shaw explain how Lyme disease is usually treated successfully with a short course of antibiotics. They also tell how the disease is diagnosed, its typical symptoms and why they advise against the long-term use of antibiotics for Lyme disease patients with lingering problems.

Complications may develop after a person undergoes gender reassignment surgery, and a Syracuse urologist has developed expertise in providing surgical repair and ongoing urologic care to these patients.

Dr. Dmitriy Nikolavsky, director of reconstructive urology at Upstate University Hospital, says a variety of complications may develop after an operation to alter the genitalia. He is one of few urologists specializing in repair work after gender reassignment surgery.

Nurses today are likely to have more training and to seek further training than their counterparts a generation ago, according to Upstate University Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Nancy Page and Clinical Coordinator for Palliative Care Archie McEvers, a nurse practitioner.

This week: prostate cancer, rehabilitation and fracking

Jan 8, 2016

Men with prostate cancer are often advised to hold off on radical treatment to see whether they can maintain a normal life while a doctor monitors the disease.

Doctors Harold Smulyan and Donald Blair (of Upstate University Hospital) look at the history of infective endocarditis -- an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and its tissues, usually caused by a bacterial infection -- in a paper published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences.

The disease was first reported in the early 1800s, and "before the development of antibiotics, this disease was uniformly fatal," says Dr. Smulyan, a cardiologist. Dr. Blair is a specialist in infectious disease.

This week: ADHD, winter concussions and dry skin

Dec 23, 2015

If your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD,) it’s better to start medical treatment early, so the child keeps up with his or her peers, says Stephen Faraone, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

An expert in ADHD, Faraone explains its many facets, including its tendency to run in families, the reluctance of some people toward medication and the hopes for genetic research.

Also this week: winter head injuries, what to do about dry skin, and research into Christmas Tree Syndrome.

This week: birth control, holiday blues and safe kids tips

Dec 17, 2015

According to Dr. Renee Mestad, for cost effective birth control that does not require a daily dose, an IUD or an implant could be a woman's best bet. Dr. Mestad is division chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Upstate Medical University.

Mestad offers an overview of currently available contraceptive options, often known as the pill, the patch or the ring -- including their drawbacks and benefits.

Also on the show this week: how to survive the holiday blues, and tips on keeping kids safe from accidents this time of year.

New guidelines suggesting that all children be screened for high cholesterol, depression and HIV are based on research showing rising numbers of kids with those problems, explains Beth Nelsen, a pediatrician at Upstate Medical University.

Ages vary for the screenings -- from 9 to 11 for cholesterol and from 16 to 19 for HIV -- which are updated annually by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Many tests, including for anemia and heart failure, have already been added by pediatricians during checkups, Nelsen says.

It’s never too late to maintain an active brain, says Patrick VanBeveren, the physical therapy supervisor at the The Centers at St. Camillus rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility.

VanBeveren stresses that physical activity, good nutrition and stress reduction are the “big three” for lifelong brain health. He describes simple ways to start -- taking short walks, eliminating any unhealthy food from your diet and setting aside a few minutes to relax on a regular basis.

Choosing among natural sugars and artificial sweeteners can be daunting.

Fortunately, much of the information you need about sweeteners is on the food’s label, allowing you to see the calories, carbohydrates and other nutritional information, says Maureen Franklin, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Upstate Medical University.

Franklin also explains differences among the various sweeteners and how they can affect individuals differently, as well as the key factors in all dietary decisions.

The surgical option for patients suffering from stroke used to be limited to traditional open surgery. Advances in radiology have made it possible for specially trained neurosurgeons, called endovascular neurosurgeons, to make repairs from within blood vessels using catheters and guide wires.

This week: the art of prescribing and more

Nov 12, 2015

A significant number of illnesses and deaths are the result of not taking one’s medicines as instructed. This is an age-old problem, called non-adherence, which happens all over the world, says psychiatry resident Swati Shivale who researched the issue with Dr. Mantosh Dewan, distinguished service professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Upstate Medical University.

This week, more about a solution where doctors carefully explain the condition and treatment to their patients, who understand and accept responsibility for taking their medicines.

Communication can frustrate a person with Alzheimer’s disease and his or her family and caregivers, but there are ways to help, says Katrina Skeval, chief program officer for the Alzheimer’s Association Central New York chapter.

Overcoming child abuse requires victims to learn how to trust themselves, not blame themselves, according to Dr. Ann Botash, professor of pediatrics at Upstate University Hospital. Botash is co-director of the Child Abuse Referral and Evaluation Program and medical director of the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center.

On this week’s show, Botash describes the signs of neglect and abuse (physical, emotional and sexual), and explains a five-point guideline for preventing abuse: learn the facts, minimize opportunities, talk about it, recognize the signs, and react responsibly.

Dr. Michael Weiner encourages people to take free brain function tests on the website he created. He hopes to use the registry to find candidates for Alzheimer’s treatment trials.

Weiner, who earned his medical degree at Upstate Medical University in 1965, is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. In this interview, he explains how Alzheimer’s disease differs from normal memory loss.

This week: melanoma, family therapy and corporal punishment

Sep 30, 2015

The deadliest skin cancer, melanoma, can affect the liver and brain in its later stages, explains Dr. Ramsay Farah, division chief of dermatology at Upstate Medical University. This happened to former President Jimmy Carter.

Caused by pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, melanoma is best treated when caught early, says Farah, who notes the significance of irregular moles and the need for regular skin exams. Farah also details Carter's cutting-edge treatment, which awakens the body’s immune system to fight the melanoma.

Emergency physicians and nurse practitioners from Upstate University Hospital offer a new service that is centuries old: house calls.

Dr. Christian Knutsen created the service, called “Upstate at Home,” after recognizing how many people become ill or injured, don’t require a trip to the hospital and don’t want to leave their home.

A virulent intestinal bacterium that is often resistant to antibiotics is being fought with an age-old practice. Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, can sicken or even kill patients, but a fecal transplant can help restore the normal balance of gut bacteria, explains David Heisig, MD, an Upstate gastroenterologist. After screening, slurried stool from a healthy donor is inserted into the patient by colonoscopy. Although much research remains to be done, Heisig said anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness is strong so far.

Regular exercise in the teen years lays the foundation for a longer, healthier life, says a newly released long-term study.

Exercise physiologist Carol Sames, PhD, director of Upstate’s Vitality Fitness Program, helps explain the massive study of Chinese women on this week’s show. She cites its drawbacks and agrees with the idea that people should be encouraged to establish healthy exercise and other habits when young.

Also on the show: whether dyslexia creates a learning disability, and how a person's job could lead to cancer.

People with high cholesterol, who cannot tolerate statin drugs, may have a new option with a new class of drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors.

Upstate cardiologist Robert Carhart says these new injectable drugs are biologics known as monoclonal antibodies -- which help clear artery-clogging LDL, or bad cholesterol. They accomplish this by inactivating proteins that otherwise would attach to receptors that are responsible for clearing the LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.  

Surgery is a valuable weight loss option for people with obesity, says Dr. Howard Simon, the chief of bariatric surgery at Upstate University Hospital. He describes obesity as a complicated disease for which a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve operation may offer treatment.

Such surgeries are usually done in a minimally invasive way, and are part of a comprehensive approach to weight loss that involves counselors, nutritionists and others to help the patient achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

This week: Medical school mission statements matter

Aug 13, 2015

Although some medical schools emphasize the training of primary care providers, the United States is not producing enough of these general medical doctors to replace those who will retire in the near future, says Christopher Morley, a professor in Upstate's Department of Family Medicine.

Often, he says, students who initially want to become primary doctors for underserved communities change their minds during medical school: "It trails off as they become more worried about debt and lifestyle and the prestige of their career."

Some forgetfulness is part of normal aging, but memory loss severe enough to interfere with your daily life could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease -- the most common form of dementia.

Cathy James is the chief executive officer of the Alzheimer's Association of Central New York. She describes what this incurable disease does to patients and their families, gives an update on research and offers some healthy living tips that might lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

An aging population and the Affordable Care Act help ensure the demand for physician assistants, physical therapists and other health care providers will continue, says Hugh Bonner, the former dean of Upstate Medical University’s College of Health Professions.

“Between 2000 and 2030, we will double the population of those 65 and older. We’ll go from essentially 35 million to 70 million people. That population also has a large number of individuals with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes,” Bonner says.

This week: hernia repair, Lyme disease and midlife changes

Jul 24, 2015

Hernias, which are potentially dangerous openings in the abdominal wall, can result from car wrecks and other injuries. Their treatment has changed in the past decade, says Dr. Moustafa Hassan, director of acute care surgery at Upstate University Hospital.

A minimally invasive procedure called salivary endoscopy allows a surgeon to find and remove a stone while leaving the salivary gland intact. The surgery, which can be done in a doctor’s office, offers an alternative to open surgery, said Dr. Mark Marzouk. Dr. Marzouk is an ear, nose and throat surgeon who leads the division of head and neck oncologic surgery at Upstate University Hospital.

Also on this week’s show:  how medical care is provided at crime scenes when someone is still shooting, and a book created by psychiatric patients.

This week: enlarged prostates, lead in the soil and more

Jul 2, 2015

Some men with enlarged prostates can be treated with a minimally-invasive surgery that uses a high-powered laser to remove the obstructive portion of the prostate. The procedure, called holmium laser enucleation of the prostate, is now offered by Dr. Jessica Paonessa, an assistant professor of urology at Upstate University Hospital.

“For many men, taking medicine for this condition isn’t something they want to do long term, and for other patients, the medications may not be effective,” Paonessa said. “In these cases, the next step is to remove the obstructive tissue surgically.”

After dispensing medical care and supplies in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake in his native Nepal, Dr. Dinesh Subedi is focusing on rebuilding.

The disaster killed more than 9,000 people and left nearly 3 million homeless.

Subedi traveled with locally donated supplies and joined Nepali doctors from the United States to treat 25 or 30 people in each of several villages, usually hiking amid the flattened buildings and landslides.

Nurse practitioner Anthony Cerminaro, who specializes in hematology and oncology, writes thrillers in his spare time. One of his characters is a doctor who graduated from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

Cerminaro joins us to talk about his books, "The Ten Knife Murders" and "Bonding Over Bullets" on this week’s show.

Also on this week's show: how multidisciplinary care helps breast cancer patients, plus kidney transplants.

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