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: sexual violence, vascular screening and more

May 24, 2016

Countering sexual violence can start with a conversation to raise awareness and encourage people to speak out, or even intervene, if necessary. This applies to college campuses as well as the larger society, say Meaghan Greeley and Tiffany Brec of Vera House, a Central New York agency that deals with domestic and sexual violence.

In community sessions about sexual violence, Brec and Greeley encourage people to think about the culture’s and their own attitude, the role of bystanders, and how violent acts eventually affect society as a whole.

This week: osteoporosis, mental health first aid and more

May 20, 2016

Many factors can put someone at risk for the bone-weakening conditions of osteopenia and the more serious osteoporosis, says endocrinologist Jennifer Kelly, clinical director of the bone density unit at Upstate University Hospital’s Joslin Diabetes Center. Kelly says the risk factors are a woman’s postmenopausal drop in estrogen, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and endocrine diseases such as hyperthyroidism. She also describes the lifestyle changes and drugs recommended to treat osteoporosis.

This week: thyroid cancers, postpartum psychosis and more

May 11, 2016

Experts are re-examining whether to consider some slow-growing abnormalities of the thyroid gland as chronic diseases to monitor, rather than as cancers to remove immediately, says Dr. Scott Albert, division chief of breast, endocrine and plastic surgery at Upstate Medical University.

Albert also explains the thyroid’s functions, the uses of scans, biopsies and radioactive iodine; and how the vast majority of thyroid cancer patients do well after treatment, which generally involves surgical removal of the gland.

A love of the wilderness led a paramedic and a doctor from Syracuse to work with the National Geographic Channel adventure series “The Great Human Race.”

Todd Curtis, a paramedic who trained at Upstate Medical University and now teaches there, served as medical safety oversight director for the show, which follows two people as they re-create the conditions of early humans in remote locales in Ethiopia, Mongolia and elsewhere.

This week: eating disorders, Alzheimer's research and more

Apr 27, 2016

Eating disorders often develop during the transition from childhood into adolescence and from adolescence into early adulthood, says psychologist Jack Wohlers, the clinical director of Centre Syracuse, a treatment program for adults and teens.

Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating can be viewed as a way to cope with life changes and stress, he says. Wohlers describes the secretive behaviors and shame that can be associated with these disorders and the importance of early detection and treatment.

An undescended testicle occurs in about 3 percent of full-term baby boys but in as many as 45 percent of boys born prematurely, explains Dr. Matthew Mason, a pediatric urologist at Upstate University Hospital.

The reasons why one testicle, or occasionally both, does not find its way to the scrotum are unclear, he says, noting that pediatricians check for this problem in well-child visits. Mason describes aspects of the condition and possible complications, such as reduced fertility and testicular cancer, as well as treatment options in this week’s episode.

This week: kidney cancer, Wikipedia, atrial fibrillation

Apr 15, 2016

Kidney cancer is often discovered by chance, when a patient receives an imaging scan for something else, says Dr. Oleg Shapiro, a urologist and radiation oncologist at Upstate Medical University.

 

Minimally invasive surgery can usually be done to remove tumors when they are caught early. Shapiro also explains how renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, how it can be aggressive and what treatments are on the horizon.

 

This week: Heroin addiction, organic foods and more

Apr 1, 2016

Finding a treatment program and overcoming an addition to heroin or another opioid is difficult but not impossible, says Dr. Ross Sullivan. Sullivan is director of medical toxicology at Upstate Medical University.

Sullivan tells how the effort to control pain medically helped create the current addiction crisis. Recent restrictions on prescription drugs have led to a flood of cheap heroin to fill the gap, he says, and current treatment options are inadequate to fight the high addiction rates.

Adult immunization recommendations are based less on the age of a person and more on their individual medical conditions, explains Dr. John Epling, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Upstate Medical University. He recently was appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential panel of national experts. He is also part of a group that makes recommendations about immunizations at the national level. He talks about the vaccinations all adults should receive, and when. 

This week: Emotional eating, 3-D mammography and more

Mar 11, 2016

Why does stress cause some people to lose their appetite and others to gorge?

Patrick Sweeney explores the complex relationships between emotion, genetics and eating patterns on this week's HealthLink on Air. He's a neurosciences doctoral candidate in Upstate’s College of Graduate Studies who recently published research showing that brain regions involved with emotion and stress are also involved in feeding behavior -- something not previously reported. He hopes future research might lead to drugs for individual circuits of the brain, rather than the entire brain.

This week: the Zika virus and colon cancer prevention

Mar 3, 2016

Most people infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus show no symptoms, and the disease is not a threat to human life, says Upstate University Hospital infectious disease expert, Dr. Timothy Endy.

He tells about the history of the virus and discusses current precautions in this week’s show.

This week: prostate cancer biopsies and concierge medicine

Feb 26, 2016

Typical prostate biopsies use ultrasound to guide surgeons to areas where cancer tends to form. If cancer is growing in another part of the prostate, it can be missed.

The UroNav fusion biopsy system helps surgeons pinpoint areas that may harbor cancer, which are unique to individual patients. It works like a GPS navigation system, directing the biopsy needle to anything suspicious.

Upstate University Hospital urologist Srinivas Vourganti explains what men can expect from the UroNav and also gives us an overview of prostate cancer.

Understanding the common triggers can help migraine sufferers avoid painful and often debilitating headaches.

Dr. Luis Mejico, professor and chair of neurology at Upstate University Hospital, explains how migraines are diagnosed and goes over the typical symptoms and triggers. He also tells about three types of treatment. Behavioral modifications can be helpful. Some medications are used a preventives, to lessen the frequency or severity of migraines, while other medications, as well as vitamins and minerals, are prescribed for use during a migraine headache.

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.

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