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 hazards that may affect senior citizens rise with the temperature during the summer months in central New York, says Dr. James Ciaccio, emergency physician and director of the senior emergency department at Upstate University Hospital.

"The difficulty for seniors is that they don't have the physical strength or the sensory abilities that a young person has," he says.

A new style of implantable defibrillator is providing options to patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. The device is sewn below a patient’s skin, leaving the heart and its vessels untouched. Electrodes continually analyze the heart’s rhythm and the device uses a pulse generator to deliver a shock if necessary.

Dr. Traian Anghel explains how this device improves upon previous defibrillators which had to be implanted in the heart.

Dr. Rick Kelley and Dr. Sam Woods' first trip to Ethiopia to provide medical care to people with ear, nose and throat ailments grew into a nonprofit organization with a broader goal of providing lasting help.

“What we figured out on that very first trip is that although it may feel good to go on a medical trip and go treat a couple hundred people, it’s really just a drop in the bucket,” Kelley says.

This week: the importance of good perinatal care and more

Jun 20, 2014

While the number of babies who die in infancy has decreased, the number of mothers who die giving birth is on the rise, says Dr. Alexandra Spadola,  obstetrical director of the regional perinatal program at Upstate Medical University.

Why is this the case?

More women are having babies after the age of 35, and more pregnant women have medical conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, which increases their risk for complications.

“We try to promote the idea of thinking about pregnancy, even if you’re not actively trying to have a baby,” Spadola says.

Strokes that occur in women create symptoms that are different than those in men. Women may experience the classic sudden numbness or severe headache, but they may also develop arm pain, general weakness or hiccups.

Rochele Clark, Upstate Medical University's stroke program coordinator, explains the importance of calling 911 immediately. Quick action is essential to help lessen the damage from a stroke.

Cancer can be brought under control in this century, the leader of the American Cancer Society said during a recent trip to Syracuse. More advocacy is key, said John Seffrin, the society’s chief executive officer.

“We have to have people speak up and say, ‘we need more money for research,’ ‘we need to insure that people are protected from second-hand smoke,’ and ‘we need to make sure that if someone has cancer, they get the care they need,’” Seffrin said.

Already, medical science knows how to prevent more than half of all cancers from occurring, Seffrin said.

This week: reducing complications in diabetes

May 30, 2014

The sharp reduction in diabetic complications is encouraging news for more than 21 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the disease. Federal researchers recently showed about 2/3 fewer heart attacks, 50 percent fewer strokes and amputations, and 30 percent fewer incidents of kidney failure among people with diabetes over the past two decades.

This week on Healthlink on Air: we hear from Dr. Tamer Ahmed, medical director of pediatric trauma services and Steve Adkisson, the pediatric trauma program manager. They'll cover the resources and capabilities of Upstate University Hospital's trauma center.

This week: mastectomy -- one procedure, various approaches

May 15, 2014

We'll hear from a surgeon at Upstate Medical University, Dr. Prashant Upadhyaya, with expertise in plastic surgery and breast care. Upadhyaya explains the various surgical techniques and the options available to women, like having breast reconstruction surgery as part of a mastectomy.

"A lot of patients now actually wake up with their breast intact," says Dr. Upadhyaya.

Also on the program this week: an update on a new cystic fibrosis drug. Plus, food safety advice for mothers-to-be.

Susan Kahn

Onondaga County Undersheriff Warren Darby shares details of the stroke he suffered when a capillary burst in his brain last summer.

Neurologist Dr. Gene Latorre was part of the team that helped care for Darby when he arrived at Upstate University Hospital. Latorre explains the types of stroke and treatment options available.

Then, what to do for varicose veins, and our regular feature -- a "Check Up from the Neck Up."

This week: new research in kidney cancer

May 2, 2014

According to research published in Urologic Oncology, some kidney cancer patients have better long-term survival odds when part of the kidney is removed, compared to patients who have the entire organ removed.

We'll discuss the findings and other treatment options for people with kidney cancer. More than 65,000 Americans were diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2013.

This week: wilderness medicine and more

Apr 18, 2014

Practicing medicine in the wilderness means being able to anticipate problems and improvise solutions. Dr. Jeremy Joslin is with us this Sunday at 9 p.m. He's the director of the Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Fellowship program at Upstate Medical University.

Wilderness medicine requires "the ability to think on your feet and diagnose and treat people without various tests and studies and radiological procedures that you might have in a hospital," Joslin says.

For people with diabetes, monitoring foot health is as important as tracking sugar levels, blood pressure and kidney function.

"If they don't have good blood supply to their foot, you can give all of the antibiotics that you want, but the antibiotics go in the blood, and the blood can't get to the foot," says Dr. Palma Shaw, a vascular surgeon at Upstate.

We'll hear how diabetes can lead to amputation and why regular podiatry appointments are suggested.

Health authorities are very aware of the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes. Some think these tobacco products lure teens and young adults to the habit of smoking not only e-cigarettes but traditional cigarettes as well.

The number of high school students using e-cigarettes has doubled from 2011 to 2012. Dr. Leslie Kohman, the medical director of the Upstate Cancer Center, explains some dangers of these devices.

Coming up this week: nurse practitioners seek independence

Mar 28, 2014

We'll take on the controversy surrounding the independence of nurse practitioners. Should they be allowed to practice independently? The deans of Upstate Medical University's college of Medicine and Nursing discuss.

"The concerns that have been expressed is that they may not have had the same depth and breadth as physician training does,” says Dr. David Duggan, College of Medicine dean. “But the key, for anyone, is to know their limits and to know what is in the best interest of their patient and when their patient needs to get additional care.”

Hear more Sunday at 9 p.m.

This week, Dr. Leonard Weiner explains a mysterious polio-like illness affecting children in California.

Plus, Cristina Pope weighed nearly 250 pounds when she decided to get serious about losing weight. Within a year she shed more than 100 pounds by carefully watching her nutrition intake and working out regularly. Now, almost two years later, she's kept the weight off.

We'll share her secrets to success, which include exercising in a variety of ways and eating plenty of vegetables.

This week: how lubricants affect fertility

Mar 14, 2014
Upstate University Hospital

Couples trying to conceive may be surprised to learn that many sexual lubricants act as spermicides, reducing their changes of pregnancy.

Several commercial products and household oils are harmful to sperm and can slow the movement of sperm, according to a study conducted through the andrology laboratory at Upstate Medical University. We'll discuss the study and it's implications with the director of andrology services, Kazim Chohan, and Dr. Renee Mestad.

Then, Dr. Antonia Culebras explains how to reduce stroke risk for people with irregular heartbeats.

Upstate University Hospital

For a woman in her late 40s to early 60s, just hearing a healthcare provider assure that "you're not alone, and you're not going crazy," can be a source of comfort.

Heather Shannon, director of the midwifery program at Upstate Medical University, says that the end of childbearing years for many women comes with a multitude of symptoms: hot flashes and night sweats, depression or anxiety and mood swings. Also during this time, women may develop problems with their thyroid and/or adrenal glands. It can leave women frustrated.

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