HealthLink on Air

Sundays at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Hosted by Amber Smith

“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

The incidence of thyroid cancer is on the rise, partly because more cases are discovered incidentally when a patient undergoes testing for something unrelated, says Dr. Roberto Izquierdo, medical director of the thyroid center and the thyroid cancer program at Upstate.

He discusses treatment and the outlook for people with thyroid cancer on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.” He also goes over symptoms of an overactive and an underactive thyroid, cautioning that symptoms vary among individuals and tend to develop gradually.

A new option for women with early-stage breast cancer allows for a concentrated dose of radiation therapy to be given during surgery to remove a breast tumor.

Breast surgeon Lisa Lai and radiation oncologist Anna Shapiro explain the benefits of Intraoperative Radiation Therapy in this interview. It's one of the newer treatment options available at Upstate.

Also on “HealthLink on Air” this week: genetic home testing kits, plus the importance of dietary fiber. Tune in Sunday, July 15 at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. for more.

Some genetic abnormalities can be detected during gestation, some are recognized upon birth and others may go undetected because disorders caused by genetic abnormalities range in their severity and impact.

Dr. Robert Lebel, director of medical genetics at Upstate Medical University, talks about genetic abnormalities, including those that are inherited and those that occur spontaneously. Lebel holds appointments in several departments, including pediatrics, medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology and ethics.

Suicide rates in the United States are on the rise for the first time in decades, going up 25 percent from 1999 to 2016. The increase is seen across different regions of the country, among different age groups, genders and ethnicities -- and especially among youth and people who are middle-aged.

What is going on?

In this interview, Dr. Robert Gregory helps explain. He is a psychiatrist and director of Upstate's Psychiatry High Risk Program.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of disorders that causes progressive loss of muscle strength and a variety of complications. Most varieties, including the most prevalent, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, are diagnosed in young children.

Dr. Deborah Bradshaw, a neurologist who specializes in neuromuscular diseases, explains how patients are cared for through the multidisciplinary Muscular Dystrophy Clinic at Upstate, sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Some people who stop taking antidepressants report withdrawal symptoms: nausea, fatigue, insomnia. In some cases, people say they felt as if they had the flu, and others report troubling zapping sensations in their heads.

New research suggests that the key to weight loss is the quality of a diet, rather than the quantity of food eaten.

"The children should not be the canaries in the coal mine," says Dr. Howard Weinberger, a professor emeritus of pediatrics who serves as medical director of the Central/Eastern Regional Lead Poisoning Prevention Resource Center.

Children currently undergo a blood test at ages 1 and 2 to see whether they've been exposed to lead. Weinberger explains on “HealthLink on Air” that he would rather be able to test the homes of children before they are exposed to see whether the homes pose a lead poisoning risk.

Registered dietitian nutritionist Maureen Franklin discusses a diet that is recommended by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as an ideal eating plan for all Americans. It's called the DASH Diet, which stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension."

The epidemics of opioid and heroin abuse have killed many people, but using these drugs can also cause a variety of medical problems including life-threatening infections.

Dr. Timothy Endy, professor and chair of microbiology and immunology at Upstate and an expert in infectious disease, tells about an increase in the number of cases of endocarditis, a type of heart infection. He also shares a personal story about how addiction has affected his family and a charity they helped establish.

Three things you might not know about stroke:

Some patients can safely undergo surgery to have their knee joint replaced and go home the same day, says Dr. Timothy Damron, the vice chairman for orthopedic surgery at Upstate. Patients who are relatively healthy and motivated may qualify for the one-day procedure, he explains on “HealthLink on Air.”

Also on this week’s show: the function of the interstitium, plus the evolution of the diaper bank.

Tune in this Sunday, May 6 at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. or "HealthLink on Air."

Dr. Jennifer Makin explains how the controversy regarding talcum powder and ovarian cancer began and its similarities to the association between asbestos and mesothelioma on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

Some studies have shown that women who use talcum powder for feminine hygiene have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, explains Makin, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Upstate. Other studies have not shown a significant association. She recommends that women not use talcum powder in the genital area.

Naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, can be purchased over the counter from pharmacies in New York and several other states, says Willie Eggleston, a clinical toxicologist and doctor of pharmacy from the Upstate New York Poison Center.

He explains how to administer naloxone, which is sold under the brand name Narcan, and how the medication works. He also tells about the Good Samaritan Law designed to protect people who are trying to help.

Pain is the human body's alarm system, but not every alarm can be traced to an injury that requires treatment. Back pain is one example. It's the kind of problem almost everyone will face at some point. But when should you be concerned?

Many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will go on to become adults with ADHD, and some adults with the disorder are not diagnosed until adulthood.

Professor Stephen Faraone discusses how the symptoms in children differ from those seen in adults. He also addresses diagnosis and treatment options. Faraone is a distinguished professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a professor of neuroscience and physiology at Upstate and recommends ADHD resources for health care providers and the public.

Dino Babers knew he wanted to be a coach from the time he was 6 years old, even before he found his sport.

Today as head football coach at Syracuse University, Babers motivates student athletes. He talks about what that's like, as well as the training regimen for SU football players and how non-athletes can make fitness a part of their lives, on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

He also shares his favorite sports movies: "The Natural," "Field of Dreams" and "Remember the Titans."

Also this week: a program that helps children overcome a variety of feeding disorders.

E-cigarettes, hemorrhoids, new blood cancer treatments

Feb 16, 2018

A new report on the health effects of electronic cigarettes says that while e-cigarettes may be less harmful than conventional cigarettes, they're not harmless -- and vaping among youth increases the risk that they will transition to smoking traditional cigarettes.

Providing an update on e-cigarette trends are administrative director Michele Caliva and public education coordinator Lee Livermore from the Upstate New York Poison Center.

People with the irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of blood clots, which can lead to a stroke.

Most blood clots in these patients form in a small pocket of the heart, explain invasive cardiac electrophysiologist Jamal Ahmed and nurse Scott Davis, who both work in the Upstate Heart and Vascular Center. Davis is the Watchman procedure coordinator, which refers to the procedure now offered to prevent clots from escaping that pocket, known as the left atrial appendage.

"HealthLink on Air" brings you a special show this week for World Cancer Day.

A century ago, people diagnosed with lung cancer had few options. Surgery meant cutting open the patient's chest and removing an entire lung.

While sometimes that type of procedure is still necessary today, surgeons are much more likely to operate through tiny incisions to remove just a lobe from the lung or a piece of a lobe.

This week: It's not too late to get a flu shot

Jan 25, 2018

With widespread flu activity reported across the United States, Upstate Medical University pediatric infectious disease expert, Dr. Jana Shaw reminds central New Yorkers that it's not too late to get vaccinated.

She says this year's influenza vaccine offers some protection against the H3N2 strain, which is circulating this season. Shaw offers advice about treatment for flu symptoms and when to seek care at a hospital.

Also on this week’s show: an explanation of palliative care, and more on chest surgery done with tiny incisions and robotic assistance.

This week: Concussion, CTE and skin care for seniors

Jan 18, 2018

Brain rest is crucial for someone who has sustained a possible concussion, say experts from the Upstate Concussion Center.

Medical director, Dr. Claudine Ward, and program director Brian Rieger, PhD, explain that most people fully recover from concussion, if they are treated properly afterward.

One key is to take care not to sustain a second head injury during recovery. They recommend brain rest, especially for the first 24 to 48 hours after injury. This is not the same as bed rest. People can be physically active, as long as they are not asking their brain to think.

A surgical procedure can correct a birth defect called pectus excavatum, in which a person's breastbone is sunken into his or her chest. Dr. Jason Wallen, chief of thoracic surgery at Upstate, explains how a steel bar is inserted between the breastbone, or sternum, and the heart and left in place for two to three years.

The condition is suspected to be genetic, affecting how the cartilage and bone form where the ribs meet the sternum.

Also on this weeks' show: breast-feeding, plus hand pain causes and treatments.

It's more a compulsion than an addiction, but many people have unhealthy attachments to their smartphones, says Upstate psychiatrist Christopher Lucas, MD.

A survey by the Pew Research Center found 46 percent of smartphone owners said they could not live without their phones. Lucas tells of another survey in which almost half of respondents said they'd rather break their arm than their cellphone.

Smoking rates have dropped in recent years, but cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., and electronic cigarettes pose a new danger, says Dr. Leslie Kohman, professor of surgery and director of outreach for the Upstate Cancer Center.

This week: Pain, cancer rates, HIV prevention

Dec 20, 2017

Pain is the human body's alarm system, but not every alarm can be traced to an injury that requires treatment.

Back pain is one example. It's the kind of problem almost everyone will face at some point. But when should you be concerned? Adam Rufa, a doctor of physical therapy at Upstate Medical University, says people should seek evaluation for pain that is accompanied by numbness or tingling, a change in bowel or bladder habits or pain that is severe and does not improve.

Women giving birth at Upstate University Hospital's Family Birth Center now have the option of using nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, to help control labor pain. Nurse manager Laurie Fegley explains on “HealthLink on Air” how the gas works and how it compares with epidural pain relief. She also tells about the private birthing rooms with whirlpool tubs that make up the Family Birth Center, located at Upstate's Community campus.

Children, students, adults, families and professionals can find helpful nutritional information on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, says Maureen Franklin, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Upstate's Joslin Diabetes Center.

Maintaining a routine is important for children and adults after hearing about a traumatizing event such as a mass shooting, says psychologist Wendy Gordon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Upstate.

She advises parents to consider the developmental level of a child when deciding whether and how to talk with him or her about terrorist incidents or other disasters. Remaining as calm as possible can help too, says Gordon, because children look to their parents for reassurance.

This week: HPV in men, hereditary cancers and heart attack

Nov 22, 2017

Exceedingly low HPV vaccination rates among young men are putting the men, and their sexual partners, at increased risk for the human papilloma virus, say Upstate urologists Timothy Byler and Michael Daugherty.

They point out that certain strains of the virus cause genital warts and are implicated in penile cancers. In this interview, they explain what men can do to protect themselves.

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