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

This week: Herd immunity, and taking a hike

Jun 16, 2021

Throughout the pandemic, we heard about herd immunity as a strategy to protect public health. In this "HealthLink on Air" segment, Dr. Stephen Thomas explains the challenges and what it would take to achieve herd immunity.

Thomas is the director of Upstate's Institute for Global Health and Translational Science, and he specializes in infectious disease.

This week: Coronavirus variants, and a Lyme disease test

Jun 9, 2021

Are you confused about the difference between a viral mutation and a variant?

In this episode of "HealthLink on Air," Dr. Elizabeth Asiago-Reddy explains what's important to know about viruses and coronaviruses including the one responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the chief of infectious disease at Upstate University Hospital. The segment also explores the effectiveness of vaccines against emerging variations of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

This "HealthLink on Air" podcast examines how far medicine has come since the days of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale.

Dr. Kaushal Nanavati talks about nutrition, physical exercise, stress management and spiritual wellness as the "Core 4" fundamentals of wellness. In this week's "HealthLink on Air," he addresses what happens to the "Core 4" when a person is diagnosed with cancer.

Also this week, stroke neurologist, Dr. Hesham Masoud goes over how you can reduce some of the risk factors for stroke.

Urologists Scott Wiener and Hanan Goldberg explain the impact an enlarged prostate can have on a man, and they go over a variety of treatment options in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

Medications or traditional surgery may work for some men. Others may be candidates for a laser surgery called HoLEP, holmium laser enucleation of the prostate, or a nonsurgical procedure called UroLift that moves the prostate tissue to increase the opening of the urethra.

Effective stroke treatments are keeping more Americans alive, and helping to prevent disability from stroke. Part of the key is early action. May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and in this segment of "HealthLink on Air," Dr. Hesham Masoud goes over the common symptoms and treatments for stroke. Masoud is an assistant professor of neurology, neurosurgery and radiology at Upstate Medical University, and a member of Upstate University Hospital's comprehensive stroke team.

Most cancers are not hereditary, but in cases where a patient or their doctor believes they may be at risk for a cancer that is inherited from family members, genetic counseling may be of use.

In this "HealthLink on Air" episode, Upstate Cancer Center genetic counselor Jason Shandler explains how cancer risk is assessed, the different types of mutations, and whether you can gain relevant information from commercial DNA testing services. He also talks about genetic concerns with breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

This week: Lung cancer overview, and who needs screening

Apr 28, 2021

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but there are ways to reduce risk of death, and it is treatable when caught early.

In this "HealthLink on Air" episode, Dr. Jason Wallen discusses how lung cancer is diagnosed and treated at various stages. Then he goes over the importance of lung cancer screening and who is recommended for annual screening.

This week: Pediatric kidney transplants, new HIV drug, more

Apr 21, 2021

Around 1,800 kidney transplants in the United States each year involve children or adolescents under the age of 18 -- and some of those surgeries take place in Syracuse, at Upstate University Hospital.

Dr. Reza Saidi, chief of transplant services, explains that most pediatric transplants are required because of a birth defect or urological problem. Parents are often able to donate one kidney to a child who needs one. Saidi also goes over the long-term outlook for a child after a kidney transplant.

People with the inflammatory disease known as sarcoidosis need an experienced doctor overseeing their care, as well as social supports, according to Upstate pulmonologist Birendra Sah.

Aside from skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.

Dr. Kristina Go is a surgeon at Upstate who specializes in surgical oncology and colorectal surgery. In this "HealthLink on Air" interview, she discusses risk factors for colorectal cancer, and the screening methods available. She tells how colorectal cancers are diagnosed, the most common symptoms, and the treatment options, which often include surgery.

This week: Headache assessment, eye exams

Mar 24, 2021

Headache is one of the most common medical complaints. Yet, headaches can be a challenging condition for doctors to diagnose and manage.

Dr. Awss Zidan, an assistant professor of neurology at Upstate, explains how he goes about diagnosing headaches and how patients can prepare for their appointments in this week's "HealthLink on Air." Zidan addresses seveal types of headaches, including migraines, cluster headaches and those that may signal a stroke or a brain tumor.

This week: COVID-19 vaccination update

Mar 17, 2021

As people line up to be vaccinated against COVID-19, some have questions or concerns. In this "HealthLink on Air" interview, Dr. Stephen Thomas explains what’s important to know about the COVID-19 vaccines.

He’s the chief of infectious disease at Upstate, where he is a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology. He also led some of the trials for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Modern medicine does not have many examples of dietary changes that can be more effective than a pharmacological treatment. In this week's "HealthLink on Air," pediatric neurologist Nicole Brescia explains the benefit of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for children with epilepsy. She tells how the diet is typically implemented and how the nutrients help reduce seizure activity.

Before they operate, surgeons generally ask patients to undergo a pre-operative physical. Dr. Zachary Shepherd explains why and what is involved in this "HealthLink on Air" episode.

Shepherd, an assistant professor of medicine who specializes in internal medicine at Upstate, covers what tests are likely to be done, what concerns may arise and why he reviews each person's medications.

Women can reduce their risk of heart disease by up to 90 percent by following five heart-healthy strategies.

"Eat a healthy diet; exercise; keep a healthy body weight; stop smoking if you smoke; and if you choose to drink, do so in moderation," says Upstate cardiologist Amy Tucker.

She is joined by her colleague, cardiologist Theresa Waters in this week's episode of "HealthLink on Air." Tucker and Waters explain the symptoms and characteristics of heart disease that are most common in women. And, they will go over risk factors that apply specifically to women.

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting racial groups differently, disproportionately affecting Black, indigenous and other people of color.

In this "HealthLink on Air" episode, Dr. Daryll Dykes discusses the disparities, existing health inequities and what can be done to improve equality. He also speaks to the importance of vaccination.

This week: Virtual visits, dietary sugar, CVT stroke

Feb 9, 2021

Some medical practices were experimenting with virtual medical visits -- using a smartphone, a tablet or other electronic device -- as a convenience before the pandemic, but the public health crisis has accelerated the use of these visits as a necessity. 

Dr. Caitlin Sgarlat Deluca is a pediatric rheumatologist at Upstate who also serves as an information technology physician. She discusses the technology required for virtual visits, how to prepare for them and how they affect the physician-patient relationship in this week's "HealthLink on Air." 

Retinal tears and detachments are ophthalmic emergencies that need to be identified quickly in order to have a good prognosis.

Ophthalmologist, Dr. Amir Yazdanyar discusses what's important to know about these conditions, including symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options in this "HealthLink on Air" episode. Yazdanyar is an assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and neuroscience and physiology who specializes in retinal diseases and research at Upstate.

This Week: Marking Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell's 200th birthday

Jan 28, 2021

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman in America to receive a medical degree, and as Upstate marks the 200th birthday of one of its most famous graduates, author Janice Nimura discusses her new book on this week's "HealthLink on Air."

Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3 percent of all cancers in the United States, but 7 percent of all cancer deaths. It's the 4th leading cause of death from cancer. Advances in the treatment of pancreatic cancer are offering hope.

Dr. Stephen Waterford offers a minimally-invasive surgery to treat atrial fibrillation called the TT Maze procedure. It's designed to block the irregular heart rhythm that is a hallmark of a-fib for up to 6 million Americans. A-fib may cause a heart rate that is too fast, or an irregular heart rhythm, and it substantially increases a person's risk of stroke.

In this "HealthLink on Air" interview, the cardiothoracic surgeon describes the procedure and explains how he reduces a person's stroke risk at the same time.

This week: Vaccine FAQs and COVID-19 hotline questions

Jan 6, 2021

Now that a vaccine is available for COVID-19, Dr. Katie Anderson explains what's most important to know about vaccination.

In this interview, she addresses who should get the shots, the expected side effects, what a new variant of the coronavirus may mean and many other frequently asked questions.

Also on this week's show, the co-directors of Upstate's COVID-19 hotline -- at 315-464-3979 -- discuss the calls their team is fielding. Listen this Sunday, January 10 at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. for more.

A physician with a background in public health teamed up with her daughter who is an academic historian of science and medicine to write a book called “Viral Pandemics from Smallpox to Covid-19.”

Dr. Rae-Ellen Kavey is a pediatric cardiologist who earlier in her career was part of the Upstate Medical University faculty. Her daughter, Allison Kavey is a professor in the history department and graduate center at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In this "HealthLink on Air" interview, they provide an overview of what society has learned from pandemics over the centuries.

Gang-related violence and the wide-ranging trauma it produces have been a persistent problem in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods throughout the United States. In Syracuse in 2010, a Community Trauma Response Team was established and appears to have helped reduce gang-related gunshots and murders.

One of the team's founders, Timothy "Noble" Jennings-Bey, provides an overview of the team's role and its importance in Syracuse in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

The number of deaths from opioid overdoses doubled in Onondaga County the first six months of 2020, compared with the first half of 2019.

In this "HealthLink on Air" interview, Dr. Ross Sullivan discusses some of the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and their impact on people with substance use disorder. He also explains how care is still available. Sullivan is an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Upstate and the director of medical toxicology.

This week: Vision health, esophageal cancer, more

Dec 9, 2020

Vision researcher and ophthalmologist Amir Yazdanyar grew up with a mother who told him eating carrots was good for his eyes. Indeed, vitamin-A-rich carrots are part of a healthy diet, which can help maintain healthy eyes, he explains in this "HealthLink on Air" episode.

Yazdanyar discusses the leading cause of blindness: retinal diseases. He goes over risk factors and symptoms and tells about his research into diabetic retinopathy.

This week: Pandemic overview and the promise of a vaccine

Dec 2, 2020

Almost a year ago, "HealthLink on Air" first talked about a novel coronavirus with Upstate’s chief of infectious disease, Dr. Stephen Thomas, who is also a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at Upstate.

A new outbreak of a respiratory virus in China had sickened more than 6,000 people and killed 132 by January 2020, but it wasn’t until mid-March that a global pandemic was declared. Since then, more than 13 million people have been infected in the United States, and 267,000 deaths have been tallied.

This week: Exercise, nutrition and the origins of cancer

Nov 23, 2020

Even though the benefits of exercise are well documented, many people aren't getting enough of it, explains Karen Kemmis, a doctor of physical therapy and registered nurse at Upstate.

She talks about the research that shows how physical activity helps reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

Also this week, medical student Natalie Antosh tells about a new "Food as Medicine" course. And, professor Mina Bissell discusses the origins of cancer. Listen this Sunday, November 29 at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. for more.

A new drug combination called AMX35 seems to help slow the decline of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. On this week's "HealthLink on Air," Dr. Jenny Meyer discusses the promise of this new treatment. She is a neurologist from Upstate who specializes in neuromuscular medicine.