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

Some 37 million people in the United States have chronic kidney disease, and for those with end-stage renal disease, the only two treatment options are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Dr. Mark Laftavi, a professor of surgery and interim chief of transplant services at Upstate, talks about the value of kidney transplants and how the best kidneys for transplant come from living donors in this “HealthLink on Air” interview.

This week: Vasectomy, physician burnout, Ecuador

Sep 12, 2019

Urologist JC Trussell discusses what to expect if you are considering the male sterilization procedure called vasectomy on “HealthLink on Air” this week. He explains what is covered in the first medical appointment, how the procedure is done, and what recovery is like.

Trussell also tells about options for a man who had a vasectomy and later decides he wants to have children. One option is an invitro fertilization technique in which sperm are removed surgically. Another is a complex operation in which Trussell specializes called a vasectomy reversal.

Upstate pulmonologist Birendra Sah explains pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lungs, and the various forms it takes, based on its causes in this week's "HealthLink on Air."

This condition is not to be confused with regular hypertension, which affects the whole body.

People approaching the age of 65 should learn about their options for health coverage through Medicare, the government's insurance plan for seniors, says Myrna Koldin.

For more than 10 years Koldin has been the coordinator for Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance in the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Long Term Care Services. It is she who answers the phone when people call with questions: 315-435-2362, ext. 4944.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative neurological disease, and its incidence is increasing. Research in animals suggests that moderate- to high-intensity exercise can slow the disease's progression, says Amy DeBlois, a doctor of physical therapy and member of the faculty of Upstate's department of physical therapy education.

On “HealthLink on Air” this week, she explains the motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms a person may have before being diagnosed with Parkinson's and how physical therapists can help. "We want to see them as soon as the diagnosis is made," she says.

After a baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and usually discarded as medical waste along with the placenta. But umbilical cord blood is rich with stem cells, which have been used to fight leukemia, lymphoma and some 80 other life-threatening diseases.

A widely prescribed type of drug used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure was made possible by a discovery from almost a century ago. The substance eventually named angiotensin was first identified in the late 1930s by doctors in the United States and Argentina, who didn't immediately agree on what to name it.

Harold Smulyan, an emeritus professor of medicine in cardiology at Upstate Medical University, describes the discovery and how later research led to today’s ACE inhibitor drugs. ACE stands for angiotensin-converting enzyme.

This week: Post-acute stroke care, pheochromocytoma, more

Jul 11, 2019

A team of specially trained people helps guide patients through recovery after a stroke, both in the hospital and after discharge.

Nurse and stroke outreach coordinator Josh Onyan and occupational therapist Jennifer Spieker describe this process, during which a patient is evaluated and helped with needs that might include therapy to recover speech or movement, as well as monitoring medications and overall health.

This week: Sunscreen, migraine headaches, and burnout

Jul 3, 2019

The continual reapplication of sunscreen is key to its effectiveness in protecting you from skin cancer, dermatologist Ramsay Farah explains in this "HealthLink on Air" episode. He's the chief of dermatology at Upstate Medical University.

Farah says sunscreen is important for everyone, no matter how dark their complexion. He also addresses concern about the chemicals that may be contained in sunscreens. He advises his patients to seek products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, substances that are inert but effective in blocking the sun's rays.

This week: Headaches, summer poison precautions, music

Jun 27, 2019

About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed in the United States each year, and more than 75 percent of those cases are diagnosed before a patient turns 2 years old. More than half of the population of people with cystic fibrosis, or CF, are 18 years or older, and the life expectancy has increased dramatically in recent years.

Dr. Chris Fortner is optimistic about a new medication. He explains what life is like for people who have CF, a degenerative genetic disease, and what sorts of therapies are helpful on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

A new method of looking into the bladder allows doctors to better spot cancers that may have previously gone undetected. On this week's "HealthLink on Air," urologist Joseph Jacob, MD, explains how "Blue Light Cystoscopy" is used in conjunction with traditional cystoscopy to diagnose tumors in the bladder.

He also discusses bladder cancer, which is most often diagnosed in people who are in their 70s. The primary early symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine.

Even before he started medical school, Dr. Gregory Conners always knew he wanted to take care of children.

He's a native of Pittsford, near Rochester, who attended SUNY Stony Brook for medical school and then completed his residency and fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He worked at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., before he became the new professor and chair of pediatrics at the Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital earlier this year.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, seems to be everywhere these days. You can buy it in pill form, or in lotions or oils, gummy candies or chocolate. ‘

It's one of the components of cannabis, or marijuana, but not the part that makes a person feel "high." So, why are so many people trying CBD?

This week: A patient and a doctor discuss kidney cancer

May 30, 2019

What is it like to live with a dire diagnosis? Dr. Adam Stern has written extensively about his experience with metastatic kidney cancer and shares his story on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

He's an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a graduate of Upstate Medical University whose essays have been published in the New York Times and Boston Globe as well as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pregnant women who go through prolonged labor without assistance are in danger of developing an obstetrical fistula, in which a hole forms between the bladder and vagina or the rectum and vagina. This condition carries a cultural stigma, and it can be corrected through reconstructive surgery.

Deep brain stimulation is a procedure that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other conditions with movement disorders.

Upstate Medical University neurosurgeon Duemani Reddy explains the procedure, the types of patients it may help, and how it’s accomplished in this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

Also this week, nurse practitioner/diabetes educator Cassandra Bradford tells about type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and Salvation Army Major David Dean explains the services his organization provides in Syracuse.

This week: Stroke symptoms, treatments and risk factors

May 2, 2019

Sleep apnea is dangerous because it can increase a person's risk for stroke, high blood pressure and vascular dementia. When a person repeatedly stops breathing during the night, the lowered oxygen levels can have negative effects on the heart and brain.

Have you ever had a biopsy or surgical procedure in which tissue was sent to the laboratory for analysis? Trying to read the pathology report, if you did not attend medical school, may prove difficult.

Pathologist Rohin Mehta, MD, offers to help patients understand their pathology reports after breast cancer surgeries or biopsies. On “HealthLink on Air” this week, he cautions patients to read their reports, circle anything they don't understand, and ask their physicians for explanations.

Taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart disease is no longer a blanket recommendation. Upstate cardiologist, Dr. Robert Carhart tells about new guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association that address the best ways to prevent heart disease on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

Doctors who are doing their residency training at Upstate University Hospital have the chance to improve their communication skills with the help of a professor of drama at nearby Syracuse University.

Through a program called "Education Through Theater Arts," the new doctors learn techniques to help them present their authentic selves when they care for patients. Stephen Knohl, MD, a professor of medicine and residency program director at Upstate, teams with Stephen Cross, a professor of drama at SU, to discuss the program on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

The location and stage of a cancer in the pancreas will help doctors decide treatment options, surgical oncologist Mashaal Dhir explains on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

Dhir explains in this interview that pancreatic cancer is often discovered only after it has advanced and that the most common type of pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma, a cancer that arises in the ducts of the pancreas. Symptoms may include jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, along with pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Some recent international research involving a scientist at Upstate Medical University is giving new insight into the biology behind attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Stephen Faraone explains that certain genetic variants can increase a person's risk for developing ADHD. Faraone is a distinguished professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and a professor of neuroscience and physiology. He and colleagues published their work in the journal Nature Genetics.

The answer is: "She is an Upstate Medical University assistant professor in bioethics, public health and preventive medicine who appeared on 'Jeopardy!' Feb. 18 and 19."

If your reply was "Who is Rachel Fabi, PhD?" perhaps you were watching.

Fabi is back from California, where the popular television game show is recorded, and she tells about her experience as a contestant on this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

If your child is hospitalized, a team of medical professionals will be involved in his or her care, including child life specialists.

A pair of researchers studied the euphoria known as the runner's high by measuring the mood, pain, anxiety and lost sense of time among collegiate athletes, along with serotonin levels, blood pressure, temperature and pupil dilation.

Dr. Steve Hicks teamed with Upstate scientist Frank Middleton for the study, which was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in men and women, and it can be preventable in people who receive proper screening. Upstate gastroenterologist Sekou Rawlins urges people to reduce their risk for developing colon or rectal cancer by following a healthy diet high in fiber and by discussing with their doctor which screening method is best for their situation.

For centuries, it was seen as a useless organ, but the appendix is now believed to play a role in the body's immune system -- and many doctors and patients are thinking twice before having the organ removed.

Sometimes when the appendix becomes inflamed, surgery is still recommended. Surgeon Moustafa Hassan explains how that is accomplished and what to consider before the operation in this week’s “HealthLink on Air.”

Pediatric rheumatologist Caitlin Sgarlat Deluca explains the variety of tools she makes available through the Pediatric Integrative Medicine Center for patients from age 2 to 22 who are experiencing pain.

Acupuncture, tai chi, music and art therapy, yoga, meditation and energy therapies are among the services available. Sometimes these techniques are paired with traditional medical treatment. Deluca discusses the different types of pain, what's normal and what's not, and how nutrition plays a role.

Women who have high blood pressure ideally should seek medical care prior to becoming pregnant, says Dr. John Folk, a clinical associate professor in Upstate's department of obstetrics and gynecology.

He explains that high blood pressure, known as hypertension, can pose risks during pregnancy. He also explains why it's reasonable to expect that a woman can deliver a healthy baby if her high blood pressure is carefully monitored and controlled during pregnancy.

Dr. Flavia Soto discusses what to expect if you’re considering surgery to lose weight. In this week’s “HealthLink on Air,” she explains the different types of surgery available, such as gastric bypass and gastric sleeve, and which patients have the best chance of success.

Also this week, cardiologist and historian Howard Smulyan talks about five classic cardiac drugs: aspirin, atropine, digitalis, nitroglycerin and quinidine. And, public health scholar Kellan Baker discusses transgender health issues.

Join us Sunday, December 9 at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on WRVO.