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

Cancer and its treatments can leave patients feeling nauseated, tired and deconditioned. But research shows that exercise during treatment can help them feel better and even function better.

“The goal of physical therapy is to assist the patient with cancer maintain their quality of life by managing the physical effects of the disease and/or its treatment,” said Cassi Terpening, who has a doctorate in physical therapy. She explains the most appropriate types of exercises on this week’s show.

Medical problems that afflict inmates are not much different than the ailments that are common in the central New York community, according to Dr. Anne Calkins.

Dr. Calkins leads the medical team providing care for adults incarcerated at the Justice Center jail in downtown Syracuse and the Jamesville Correctional Facility, and for youths at the Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center in Syracuse.

This week: lupus, autism spectrum disorder and sonography

May 1, 2015

The survival rate for lupus has improved significantly, but treatment of the chronic autoimmune disease remains difficult. That's according to Dr. Andras Perl, division chief of rheumatology at Upstate Medical University.

Lupus can affect almost any organ of the body and patients can suffer flares that last for days or months. But with new drugs on the horizon, the outlook for lupus patients is brighter today than it was 20 years ago, says Perl. He talks about the increasing use of indicators called biomarkers to measure a patient’s response to treatment.

An alarming number of people who take synthetic marijuana are arriving at hospital emergency departments in Syracuse suffering from dangerous reactions. Dr. Ross Sullivan stresses that people need to know this drug can cause coma, extreme agitation, seizures and even death.

Dr. Sullivan, director of the medical toxicology consultation service and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Upstate University Hospital, says street drug makers constantly tweak the chemical structure and stay one step ahead of law enforcement.

Neurologist Deborah Bradshaw discusses two types of disease-modifying treatments that are in clinical trial and could have a profound effect on people who have muscular dystrophy.

“Because we know finally what’s wrong in the gene, how that translates to an abnormal protein and how the protein may be processed abnormally in the cell, we’re actually designing drugs that interrupt that pathway and may, literally, change the course of a genetic disease,” said Bradshaw. “It is amazing.”

With Ebola ravaging her native Liberia, Dr. Margaret Tandoh felt the need to assist. Her surgical skills might not be needed against the virus, but she could certainly provide basic medical care. So Tandoh joined AmeriCares and traveled to Africa to establish an Ebola treatment center.

“The night before my first encounter in the Ebola unit, I have to say I was a little scared,” Tandoh recalls. “I wasn’t so much scared of contracting Ebola. I was afraid of passing out in the protective equipment because it was so hot.”

How do we break our cultural obsession with weight? Author Harriet Brown says we must:

  1. Stop fat talking about ourselves,
  2. realize that being thin does not mean one is healthy, just as being fat does not mean one is unhealthy, and
  3. take our emphasis off of people's appearances.

Brown, a Syracuse University professor, speaks about what led her to write the book, "Body of Truth -- How Science, History and Culture Drive our Obsession with Weight and What We Can Do About It."

Pregnant women, sex workers and men having sex with men are recommended to be tested for exposure to syphilis since health officials have noticed an increase in cases of the sexually-transmitted disease.

"We started to see these rates spike the last couple of years, quite significantly," said Indu Gupta, MD, health commissioner for Onondaga County.

Upstate Cancer Center medical director, Dr. Leslie Kohman, talks about advances in cancer prevention that have taken place over the years; plus how surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments have changed and improved. Debbie Stack tells about an upcoming cancer documentary that will air on PBS and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Emperor of All Maladies.”

People with Type 1 diabetes would not have to check their blood sugar levels 12 times a day or worry about wild fluctuations while they slept if an experimental bionic pancreas works as designed, says Dr. Ruth Weinstock, medical director of Upstate Medical University's Joslin Diabetes Center.

"It's not a cure, but it's definitely a step forward," Dr. Weinstock says.

This week, how the artificial pancreas works.

This week: miscarriage, HIV prevention and healthy weight

Mar 5, 2015

Though miscarriages can often go unnoticed, they are tremendous losses to the mothers who experience them. Certified nurse midwife Kathleen Dermady explains the symptoms of miscarriage, and Dr. Shawky Badawy goes over the causes.

"Sometimes they have the feeling of blaming themselves," Badawy says of the mothers, "but they are not to blame."

Also this week: how to obtain the prescription drug that can prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS -- plus, nutrition and healthy weight.

This week on HealthLink on Air: Dr. Scott Van Valkenburg discusses common foot problems -- plus, discussion on hot flashes and heart disease in women.

Also on the show, central New Yorkers have an opportunity to participate in a study designed to help find a vaccine for dengue fever, a mosquito-born disease that affects many parts of the developing world and parts of the United States.

This week: how to feed a picky eater and more

Feb 19, 2015

A parent's job is to put healthy foods on their children’s plates. After that "you need to back up and let the child choose what they are going to eat," according to Roseanne Jones.

Jones, a registered dietitian, says if a child doesn't want to eat something in particular, don't force it. This week, many more tips and advice for parents whose children are picky eaters.

Also on this week’s show: heart disease in women, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Dr. Robert Lenox was a medical intern in 1976 when he took care of a man with a fever, cough, muscle and body aches who had attended the American Legion convention in Philadelphia.

Measles was said to have been eliminated from the United States in 2000. Continuous transmission of the contagious disease was halted, thanks to widespread vaccination, and for decades measles was not a problem within our borders. Many of today’s doctors -- vaccinated as children -- have never cared for a patient sick with measles.

Now an outbreak that began at Disneyland has infected people in multiple states and underscored the importance of vaccinations in preventing the disease.

With the incidence of kidney stones on the rise, experts believe the obesity epidemic is at least partially to blame. But there are some preventative measures that could save you from some pain.

This week: medical providers who volunteer knowledge, skills

Jan 23, 2015

Nurse Laurie Rupracht is recruiting medical professionals to accompany her on a trip to Ghana (her fifth) through the Americans Serving Abroad Project. As in previous years, her group will staff a mobile medical clinic in villages at least 100 miles from a hospital.

"People are afraid to go anywhere in Africa, thinking Ebola is everywhere. Ghana has not had one case of Ebola," she says.

Syracuse University professor R. David Lankes joins us to speak about his treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma; more specifically, the type of patient he was striving to be.

His novel, "The Boring Patient," chronicles his time in the hospital.

"In the hospital, or during chemotherapy, I want to be the charming man who only requires a vitals check or a scheduled chemo dose," Lankes writes. "You don't wan to be interesting in most medical settings. Interesting means complications, and that is bad."

People who walk regularly for exercise may notice that their speed declines and they tire more easily as they age. But is that because they are aging? Could that reduction in pace and energy be slowed or reversed by other types of exercise, like running?

Upstate Medical University exercise physiologist Carol Sames explains how running was found to be more beneficial than walking in a study that compared walkers and runners in Boulder, Colorado. She says running is not appropriate for everyone, and she offers some other ways walkers can add intensity to their workouts.

This week: winter head injuries, and positive parenting

Dec 31, 2014

Protecting yourself from head injury during the winter goes beyond wearing a helmet while skiing and skating, according to concussion expert Brian Rieger, PhD.

"Behavior is as important as safety equipment," Rieger says.

More about traumatic brain injury prevention and why helmets may not protect against concussion.

Also this week: the principles of discipline and new research on parenting. Plus, a place for hospitalized children to keep up with schoolwork, within Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.

People who are obese are likely to have fast heart rates and after weight loss surgery, when concentrations of the hormone leptin drop, so does a person’s heart rate, says Rushikesh Shah, MD (who is completing his training in internal medicine at Upstate University Hospital). More on this "physiological compensatory change" and ways to help avoid unnecessary diagnostic tests and medical interventions.

Also this week: a special dance class for people with Parkinson's disease to improves balance, gait and strength and a program for those with a high risk for breast cancer.

On this week's show Maria Erdman explains how a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in oncology can help cancer patients as they go through treatment. Appetite, eating habits and weight are all potentially affected by cancer treatment.

"Some people sail right through, but for many people it's very challenging," Erdman says.

Also this week: searching for ways to replace cells that are lost during retinal degeneration and the history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

This week: a story of how the flu can be deadly

Dec 10, 2014

Joseph Marotta was a healthy kindergartner when he contracted, and died from, the H1N1 flu. Today his parents advocate for influenza vaccination through the organization, Families Fighting Flu. Hear their story, this week.

Also this week: Dr. Lorena Gonzalez talks about varicose veins and a treatment called sclerotherapy, plus how to eat healthy during the holiday season.

Orthopedic surgeons are using a new tool at Upstate University Hospital which helps them precisely install replacement parts for hips and knees.

“This robotic arm is connected to a series of computers that allows the machine to recognize where, in a three-dimensional space, the tip of that arm is located,” describes Dr. Robert Sherman.

Also this week: Ray Straub and the American Cancer Society’s Jason Warchal discuss the Men to Men prostate cancer support group, and editor Deirdre Neilen presents the 14th annual issue of the Healing Muse, Upstate’s literary journal.

Among the blessings for which Timothy Hudson and Edward St. George are thankful is the medical care they each received when they faced separate health crises earlier this year.

Timothy Hudson’s kidneys were failing when his son decided to donate one of his kidneys. He recalls the experience with transplant surgeon, Dr. Vaughn Whittaker.

Edward St. George broke his neck in a fall over the summer. He and neurosurgeon Dr. Lawrence Chin explain how careful emergency response made the difference in his recovery.

Getting a flu vaccination is an important way to protect yourself from getting influenza, says Dr. Jana Shaw, an infectious disease expert at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

In this week’s show, she explains why almost everyone over the age of six months is recommended to be vaccinated each year. Influenza can cause a severe illness which is easily spread from person to person and can be deadly.

This week, HealthLink on Air is airing an entire episode devoted to nursing. We will hear about two types of specialized nursing care, plus we’ll hear from the author of the American Nurse Project.

Cazey Hammerle, a nurse at Upstate University Hospital, talks about the challenges of caring for patients who are overweight or obese. Many of these patients have diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, degenerative joint disease and/or high cholesterol -- which can complicate their medical care.

Dr. Brian Thompson, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and a Native American, talks about his attendance at the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples as a representative of Upstate Medical University in September at the United Nations.

Also this week: Dr. Timothy Endy shares his personal experience with Dengue fever, a growing global health problem. Plus, Carrie Roseamelia, administrative coordinator for Upstate’s Rural Medical Education program, talks about what attracts medical students to practice in rural areas.

The symptoms of epilepsy may appear differently in senior citizens than in younger people, which makes the diagnosis tricky and can lead to incorrect treatment, says Dr. Rebecca O’Dwyer, a neurologist at Upstate Medical University.

She says the incidence of epilepsy in older adults is on the rise and about half of the cases are caused by strokes. Symptoms do not always include convulsions, though.

This week: Ebola preparedness and more

Oct 24, 2014

“We are as ready as we can be,” Christopher Dunham, Upstate University Hospital’s emergency management director, says of the Ebola crisis. Upstate is one of eight hospitals in New York State that was designated to handle any patients in the state diagnosed with Ebola.

People who arrive at the hospital’s emergency department are asked about recent travel to West Africa and contact with anyone infected with the Ebola virus. Dunham says protocols are in place to swiftly isolate patients suspected of having Ebola.

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