Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss @cindyweiss

Activity by Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss @cindyweiss


5 days ago by @cindyweiss · View  

What you need to know about this year’s flu vaccine

a health care provider with gloves on giving a person a flu shot injection in the upper arm

In addition to changing leaves, the arrival of fall usually signifies the beginning of flu season.

A serious and potentially deadly virus, influenza causes fever, coughing and muscle aches. It also can lead to other complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and, potentially, death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 49,000 flu-related deaths occur annually. Internal medicine specialist Dr. Vandana Bhide, who treats many hospitalized flu patients at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida, offers advice and information on this year’s flu strains, available vaccines, and tips to avoid getting the flu.

New information on the flu 

For the 2016-2017 flu season, there have been several updates, including a recommendation by the CDC against the FluMist. Dr. Bhide notes:

  • All vaccines are injectable. There is a needleless system option for those with a fear of needles.
  • This year's flu strains include H1N1 A and a new subtype known as H3N2. There’s also a new B strain called Brisbane.
  • A quadravalent vaccine is available, which has two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains.
  • There are options available for people with egg allergies that are made in cell cultures or are completely synthetic.

"This year, there is a vaccination option for everyone," says Dr. Bhide.

Importance of the vaccine

Dr. Bhide encourages everyone to consider a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications — individuals over 65, pregnant women, children 6 months to 2 years old, and individuals who are immunocompromised.

"Many people who get the flu will have a fever, experience muscle aches and feel the need to stay home from work or school for a few days. Certain people can develop serious complications. The vaccine can help avoid these issues,” says Dr. Bhide.

Due to the unpredictability of the flu season, which is typically from October to March, there is no specific date by which you should get your vaccine. The only advice is that the vaccine should be administered as early as possible to be able to take effect before exposure to the virus.

"The vaccine is the best defense against the flu and serious flu-related conditions, and, because it's difficult to predict how and when the flu will strike, I recommend getting it as early as you possibly can," says Dr. Bhide.

Watch: Dr. Bhide discuss the latest in flu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, [email protected]

Tips for avoiding illness

Dr. Bhide offers these tips for staving off the flu and other illnesses, regardless of the season:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with water and soap, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    This is particularly important before leaving the bathroom, eating or touching your face.
  • Avoid others who are sick, and stay home from work or school if you are ill.
    Dr. Bhide recommends visiting the doctor if you are part of the highrisk group for flu or around someone who is at risk.
  • Keep your vaccines up to date.
    Aside from the seasonal flu shot, the most important vaccines, she says, include measles, mumps and rubella and the combined Tdap, which covers tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (whooping cough).

"In general, vaccines are not going to prevent you from getting the flu by themselves; the best way to avoid getting sick with the flu is by combining healthy living practices with an up-to-date vaccine," says Dr. Bhide.

She adds that it's important to see your doctor immediately when you begin experiencing flu symptoms. A prescription medication is available for some patients who have had flu symptoms for less than 48 hours.

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Sat, Oct 8 at 10:20am EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Mayo Clinic's Florida campus returning to normal operations after hurricane

exterior of Mayo Clinic hospital entrance in Florida
UPDATE Saturday, Oct. 8, 9:30 AM ET
Mayo Clinic's Florida campus is returning to normal operations.

  • The hospital and emergency room remain open
  • The Clinic will open for regular business hours on Monday, October 10
  • Dialysis will be open Sunday, October 9 for scheduled patients

UPDATE Friday, Oct. 7, 9 PM ET
Hurricane Matthew is weakening as it moves up the coast away from Florida. Hotels and other buildings on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus will reopen when authorities deem it is safe for people to travel to the area and allow residents to return to surrounding areas that were evacuated by the city. Mayo Clinic will resume normal operations once it is safe to travel.


UPDATE Friday, Oct. 7 at 9:45 AM ET
All clinic and non-inpatient operations at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus are now closed through Saturday, Oct. 8.

UPDATE Thursday, Oct. 6 at 11 PM ET
Mayo Clinic's Florida campus is located in a zone where there is the potential for flooding. Our capacity to handle new patients at this time is limited.

UPDATE Thursday, Oct. 6 at 4 PM ET
Mayo Clinic continues to monitor Hurricane Matthew. The following is an update to operations:

  • Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has ordered an evacuation of the Jacksonville beaches and Intracoastal areas within Zones A, B and C. Mayo Clinic's Florida's campus is located in Zone C, but as a vital service we are requested to “defend in place” and are prepared to do so. The hospital uses this strategy due to the population of individuals, including patients who are be confined to bed and maybe unable to evacuate; or patients who may be attached to life-sustaining equipment and removing from the building might be dangerous. If needed, occupants are moved to a safe location on the same floor or a higher location.
  • Mayo Clinic's Beaches Primary Care, St. Augustine Primary Care, and Sandcastle are closed and will likely re-open on Monday, Oct. 10.
  • All clinic and non-inpatient operations will end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6.
  • Mayo Clinic is formalizing plans to extend hours the week of Oct. 10 to accommodate any patients looking to reschedule because of the storm.
  • The patient information line (904-953-7100) remains active.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 6
Mayo Clinic is committed to serving the needs of our patients and community before, during, and after Hurricane Matthew. In response to Hurricane Matthew the following changes will be made to operations at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus:

  • The following Mayo Clinic locations closed at end of business on Wednesday, Oct. 5 and will re-open on Monday, Oct. 10: Beaches Primary Care, St. Augustine Primary Care, and Sandcastle.
  • All clinic and non-inpatient operations will end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6.
  • Outpatient dialysis services will be modified to accommodate patients on Thursday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 9. Outpatient dialysis will be closed Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8.
  • Plans to extend clinic hours the week of Oct. 10 are underway to accommodate any patients looking to reschedule because of the storm.

As of Thursday, October 6, 12:00 noon Eastern, Hurricane Matthew continues to be a threat to the east coast of the U.S.. Currently, Matthew is a major hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 156 mph. (Category 4). The storm is in the northwest Bahamas, moving northward at 10 mph.

The latest track from the National Hurricane Center shows Matthew affecting the east coast of Florida, as well as eastern portions of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. As with any hurricane, a shift in track will increase or decrease local impacts.

Hurricane Matthew’s approach puts it close to Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida. Storm tracking indicates it will impact the area late on Friday, Oct. 7, into the morning of Saturday, Oct. 8.

Currently, Mayo Clinic's Florida campus and all related facilities are open during business hours. The clinic is formalizing plans to extend hours on Thursday, Oct. 6, as well as the week of Monday, Oct. 10, to accommodate patients looking to reschedule because of the storm.

The hospital on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus has what is called a defend-in-place strategy. This is due to the population of individuals, including patients who may be confined to bed and maybe unable to evacuate; or patients might be attached to life-sustaining equipment and removing from the building might be dangerous. If needed, occupants are moved to a safe location on the same floor or a higher location.

Updates will be added to this Mayo Clinic News Network post throughout the weekend.
Call the Patient Information Hotline at 904-953-7100 for the latest information.

For the latest on Hurricane Matthew go to the National Hurricane Center.

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Wed, Oct 5 at 1:32pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Safety suggestions before a hurricane hits


When a natural disaster strikes, being properly prepared can help ensure personal safety and well-being. Mayo Clinic experts advise that it's just as important to have appropriate medical provisions on hand as food and water.

"It is important to have food, water and other household supplies on hand when preparing for a hurricane or other disaster, but it is also important to take stock of your health care necessities and prepare a first-aid kit, as well, " says Dr. Vandana Bhide, internist at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

Dr. Bhide recommends these supplies:

  • Antibiotic cream or ointment
  • Band-Aids and gauze
  • A two-week supply of any prescription medications
  • Disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer
  • Bug repellent
  • Sun block

"For people who are on a special diet, such as a low-salt or diabetic diet, we advise them to stock up on the specific food and be prepared to bring it with them if they need to evacuate," says Dr. Bhide.

Pregnant women, especially those 38 weeks and beyond, should also take special precautions, Dr. Bhide adds. "Identify the closest hospital, and be prepared with items not only for yourself, but for your baby,  such as diapers, bottles and clothing, in case you deliver early," she says.

Dr. Bhide also reminds that, since most hospitals are not available as shelters, patients relying on durable medical equipment, including oxygen and home ventilators, should identify the nearest special-needs medical shelter. Most cities and towns should have one that can accommodate patients requiring power for medical devices.

"It is also important to remember to stay away from standing water that might occur as a result of any flooding. I also advise patients to include bug spray, particularly the ones that are effective against mosquitoes." Dr. Bhide says.


Food safety reminders

"Having a plan for basic food and water, particularly if power outages occur, will ensure proper nutrition, energy and long-term wellness," says Mayo Clinic nutritionist Debra Silverman.

When an emergency strikes you should:

  • Keep refrigerator/freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Refrigerator will keep cold for four hours if left unopened.
  • Freezer will keep food cold for 48 hours if full.
  • The temperature danger zone= 41 degree Fahrenheit to 135 degres Fahrenheit.
  • If refrigerated food greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, discard the food.

Foods to store are:

  • Bottled water (3 gallons per person per day)
  • Shelf-stable boxed drinks (e.g., fruit juice and powdered milk)
  • Canned goods (vegetables, fruit, meats and beans)
  • Peanut butter or other nut butters
  • Crackers
  • Trail mix/dried cereal

Silverman also recommends keeping disposable cutlery, paper plates and cups on hand. Gel-based hand sanitizer or disenfectant wipes are also helpful.

Watch: Nutritionist Debra Silverman discuss hurricane preparation tips.


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Wed, Sep 28 at 2:30pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Women's Wellness: Decreasing the most common gynecologic cancer

a woman with a head scarf sitting quietly on a couch with her hand together, deep in thought looking sad, perhaps prayingEndometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 60,000 new cases of endometrial cancer – also known as uterine cancer – are diagnosed annually.

Endometrial cancer begins in the layer of cells lining the inside of the uterus. It often is detected at an early stage because it usually produces abnormal vaginal bleeding. However, more than 10,000 women die each year from this cancer.

Although endometrial cancer typically affects post-menopausal women, it can affect adult women at any age.

"Those at higher risk include women who are obese, have high blood pressure, diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome," says Dr. Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, gynecologic oncologist and surgeon with the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. "We also know that tamoxifen use doubles the risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women."

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 904-953-2299[email protected] 

In addition, about 5 percent of all cases are related to genetics, says Dr. Bakkum-Gamez. "Women who have a familial history suggestive of Lynch syndrome, which can include a history of colon, ovarian, stomach, urinary tract and pancreatic cancers are at higher risk also. Knowing your family history is important. If there is a strong family history of cancer, I recommend seeing a genetic counselor."

Watch: Dr. Bakkum-Gamez give an overview of endometrial cancer

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Bakkum-Gamez are in the downloads.

Treatment advances

Surgery is the primary form of treatment for women with endometrial cancer. If discovered early, removing the uterus surgically often cures endometrial cancer, says Dr. Bakkum-Gamez.

"The standard of care is to perform minimally invasive surgery ─ usually vaginal, laparoscopic, or robotic surgery. Robotic surgery has been a major advance in endometrial cancer management as it decreases complication rates," she notes.

Depending upon pathology and individual risk, chemotherapy is used to treat some patients. If lymph nodes are involved, patients also are treated with external radiation. "For some women with early-stage cancer who are at high risk of a vaginal recurrence, we also have a form of internal radiation ─ vaginal brachytherapy ─ that is available," Dr. Bakkum-Gamez says.

illustration of uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, endometrial cancer, gynecological surgery

Screening tests and innovations

Currently, there is no screening test available for endometrial cancer but Dr. Bakkum-Gamez is working on research to address early detection and risk. She is leading a team from Mayo Clinic and the National Cancer Institute in the development of a new tampon-based test for endometrial cancer. She is also hoping to develop virus-based therapies to help destroy cancer cells in patients with metastatic endometrial cancer.

"Once endometrial cancer metastasizes, it is often very difficult to treat so it is important for us to identify it early and treat it most effectively," she says. "I tell women all the time: any abnormal uterine bleeding should be investigated."Women's Wellness logo

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Wed, Sep 14 at 9:08am EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Women's Wellness: Early diagnosis for ovarian cancer

ovarian cancer patient Cindy Weiss wearing a head turban during treatment

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and physicians want to raise awareness in the hopes of helping spur earlier diagnoses.

There are several types of ovarian cancer, which can include cancer of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the lining of the peritoneum. While anyone can be at risk, ovarian cancer is most common in women over age 50 and those women who are known carriers of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes.

“The majority of ovarian cancer is sporadic but it is the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths, due in part to the challenges with early diagnosis,” says Dr. Carrie Langstraat, gynecologic surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal bloating or stomach ache
  • Back pain
  • A feeling of fullness after eating
  • Bowel changes

“These are common symptoms that women often chalk up to other things and then they aren’t diagnosed until the cancer has progressed,” Dr. Langstraat says. “I always encourage women to follow up with their physician if their symptoms persist. The earlier we can diagnose ovarian cancer, the better we can treat it.”

Screening and diagnosis

Ultrasounds and a blood test, known as a CA 125, may be useful in helping to determine a diagnosis. However, Dr, Langstraat says, there is not a great screening tool for ovarian cancer.

“For women with BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutations, who are at higher risk for ovarian cancer, a CA 125 test may be effective in looking for early signs," she explains. "But overall, it is not accurate enough to use for ovarian cancer screening in all women since other things, including menstruation, can increase the CA 125 level. We would like to see a better screening testing for everyone."

Watch: Dr. Lanstraat give an overview of ovarian cancer

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Langstraat are in the downloads.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 904-953-2299[email protected] 

Advances in care

Due to the nature of the disease, Dr. Langstraat notes that a majority of women have a recurrence. “But new treatments are coming down the line that will hopefully contribute to a decreased risk of recurrence,” she says.

Several clinical studies are underway looking at vaccines designed to prevent the recurrence of ovarian cancer.

“Our hope is that soon we will have a better screening test for everyone and then be able to cure more patients up front," says Dr. Langstraat. "But in the meantime, I tell my patients to stay vigilant and be an advocate for yourself.”Women's Wellness logo

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Mon, Aug 15 at 4:43pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Catching the Signs of Concussion

brain illustration 16 x 9

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, every 13 seconds, someone in the U.S. sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The most common type of TBI is a concussion.

Concussions can happen to anyone, but children and athletes are at a particularly high risk.

Dr. Jennifer Roth Maynard says, “There are over 300,000 head injuries reported annually in high school athletics and over 90 percent are concussions.”  Dr. Maynard is a primary care and sports medicine physician at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida and chair of the Northeast Florida Regional Sports Concussion Task Force.

Effects of concussion are usually temporary, but can include headaches, blurred vision, nausea, and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Anxiety and sleep issues can also occur.

Though some injuries can cause a loss of consciousness, most concussions do not. Because of this, Dr. Maynard says some people don't even realize they have a concussion. She adds, "Spreading awareness about concussion, knowing the signs and symptoms and seeking prompt medical attention is essential to helping prevent long-term injuries, especially in young people."

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Maynard are in the downloads. [TRT 2:07]

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Wed, Jul 27 at 8:41am EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Rise in Head and Neck Cancer Spurs Innovations in Care

a medical illustrations of the head and neck cancer regions

Incidence of head and neck cancers – usually defined as malignancies above the collarbone but outside the brain – are on the rise, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS).  The most common is thyroid cancer, with more than 62,000 cases annually.

Other head and neck cancers, including tumors of the mouth, tongue, throat, vocal cords, and salivary glands, account for about 3 percent of all new cancer diagnosis in the U.S.  This year, more than 61,000 new cases will be diagnosed.

According to the ACS, the primary causes of most head and neck cancers, which are more common in men than women, are: alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to HPV, the same virus that increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.

“In the past decade, we’ve seen an epidemic rise in cancers in the back of the throat, specifically in the tonsils and the base of the tongue ─ most which are related to HPV,” says Dr. Geoffrey Young, a head and neck surgeon in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

The growing number of cases, coupled with advancements in technology and treatment options, has “created a new paradigm in caring for these patients, as they usually require multiple subspecialists coordinating care over weeks and months,” says Dr. Young.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, at 507-284-5005 or [email protected].

JOURNALISTS: Animation and sound bites are in the downloads.

New treatment options

To help streamline the care process, Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida recently launched a Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Clinic, offering patients a single point of entry into Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center. The new clinic provides a coordinated approach to specialty care, including surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, neuro-radiology and pathology.

In recent years, advances in minimally invasive robotic surgery, mean patients suffering from throat cancers, in particular, have more treatment options. “We now have the opportunity, thanks to advances in robotic surgery and minimally invasive techniques, to treat patients who previously were not candidates for surgery,” says Dr. Young.

In addition, research has also led to advances in chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

The value of the new multidisciplinary clinic, in addition to convenience, says Dr. Young, is that patients have the opportunity to learn about all the available treatment options and make real-time decisions with the entire team of experts.

“In a single office visit, patients have a full analysis with all of the providers. And at the end of the 45 minutes, they have a comprehensive treatment plan individualized to them so they can immediately begin treatment,” explains Dr. Young.

Seeking expertise

Diagnosing head and neck cancers can be challenging, since many do not have symptoms until they are in the later stages. As such, Dr. Young recommends seeking out medical advice for any changes or pain in the mouth, throat, or neck.

“The most common misconception is that these cancers cannot be cured. With the right treatment, many patients can return to a normal quality of life,” says Dr. Young.

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Mon, Jul 25 at 2:47pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Pediatricians Central in Zika Patient Care

a baby or infant's head being cradled in the hands of a doctor in a white coat with a stethoscope
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to track pregnant women with Zika infections, the organization has said that due to the risks, children – and infants especially – must be monitored closely after confirmed exposure for developmental and neurological issues.

A recent report indicates that children affected with Zika will need multidisciplinary care, particularly since the implications of the illness may not be apparent for some time.

“The primary pediatrician will play a critical role in following a Zika-exposed infant or child, not only to closely monitor growth and development, but to coordinate care with specialists such as pediatric ophthalmologists, ear, nose and throat physicians, and neurologists,” says Dr. Vandana Bhide, an internist and pediatrician at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Other important roles of the pediatrician include ensuring timely vaccinations and blood tests for children as well as appropriate referrals to intensive physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy for those youngsters found to have motor and intellectual developmental delays,” she adds.

Pediatricians also can be a valuable support resource for families who suddenly find themselves caring for a special needs child.

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Fri, Jul 22 at 2:25pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Non-travel Zika Case Spurs Concerns: Tips for Protection

a computer monitor screen of the CDC website with a magnifying glass, illustrating the words "Zika virus"Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with the Florida Department of Health to investigate the first Zika case that appears to have no connection to travel or sexual contact transmission.

Mayo Clinic internal medicine specialist Dr. Vandana Bhide from Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida, says the challenge is determining if there is now an infected population of mosquitoes in the U.S.

Listen to Dr. Vandana Bhide discuss Zika virus.

“We know which mosquitoes carry the Zika virus, and they are very common and like being around people,” says Dr. Bhide. “The concern is that we don’t yet know if there is an infected mosquito population here in the U.S. or if there is some other person-to-person spread.”

"Identifying a population of mosquitoes that are infected with the Zika virus is not a simple process, despite the tracking and monitoring of the insects," says Dr. Bhide. “Now is the time when we need to think about this,” she adds, noting that the best defense against infection is to avoid being bitten.

To avoid mosquito bites, you should:

  • Control environmental factors, such as standing water.
  • Stay indoors more.
  • Use insect repellant or protection such as mosquito nets.

According to local Florida news reports, health officials say they are investigating a second possible case of Zika spread locally.


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Tue, May 31 at 1:00pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Your Hearing At Risk? Protect Your Ears

a man trying to listen, cupping his ear because of hearing loss
Hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process. But, noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise, leading to May being recognized as Better Hearing Month.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 15 percent of adults in the U.S. from 20 to 69 and 5 percent of children over 6 are affected by noise-induced hearing loss.

“The two most common reasons for hearing loss are aging and noise-induced hearing loss,” says Dr. Greta Stamper, an audiologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Noise-induced hearing loss can occur anytime you are exposed to excessively loud sounds. It occurs most often due to repetitive exposure to loud sounds but permanent hearing loss can occur after even one episode,” says Dr. Stamper.

The most common causes of noise-induced hearing loss include exposure to loud music, lawn equipment, heavy machinery or power tools, and gunfire.

In most cases, noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and irreversible.

Reducing risk

To reduce the risk for noise-induced hearing loss, Dr. Stamper offers these recommendations:

  • Avoid or limit exposure to excessively loud sounds.
  • Limit volume on headphones, especially for children.
  • Use properly fitting ear protection.
  • Keep ear protection handy. She recommends foam ear inserts as a portable, cost-effective alternative, since they can be stored easily in a pocket, purse or glove compartment for unanticipated exposure.
  • Seek medical attention if there is sudden hearing loss, ongoing ringing or pain in the ear.

When to get a hearing test

For most adults, a preventive hearing screen at age 50 is sufficient. Then, a screening every five to 10 years afterward, based on individual circumstances, is ideal, says Dr. Stamper. Once hearing loss is identified, though, an annual follow-up with an audiologist is recommended.

Watch: Dr. Stamper explains hearing, the types of hearing loss and ways to reduce hearing loss.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Stamper are available in the downloads.

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Tue, May 24 at 8:52am EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

New Immunotherapy Approved for Metastatic Bladder Cancer

a medical imaging view of a bladder before and after treatmentPatients with metastatic bladder cancer have few treatment options after failure of chemotherapy until now.

In early May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the immunological drug Atezolizumab to treat metastatic bladder cancer. The decision came following results of an international, multisite phase II clinical study published in the March 4 edition of the Lancet. Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus was one of the largest sites involved in the study.

Dr. Richard Joseph, a Mayo Clinic oncologist involved in the study, says the drug works by helping the patient’s own immune system fight cancer.

“Bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer, causing 165,000 deaths worldwide annually,” says Dr. Joseph, whose research is part of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program within the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

“Until now, treatment options for patients with metastatic bladder cancer were limited. Chemotherapy has been the only option for these patients, but many people are unable to tolerate the full course of chemotherapy, due to its toxicity. New approaches, such as immunotherapy medications like this, are desperately needed.”

Watch: Dr. Joseph explains the study, how the new drug works and treatment options.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Joseph are in the downloads.

Of the 310 patients involved in the study, 15–20 percent had significant and lasting response, says Dr. Joseph, which is part of what led to the FDA's fast approval.  "The response rates lead us to believe these patients will have very long and durable remissions," he adds.

Tumors can avoid immune system surveillance by expressing genes that turn off the immune system and prevent it from recognizing them. Atezolizumab inhibits one such gene present on the surface of bladder cancer tumor cells, thereby allowing the immune system to recognize and attack the tumor.

Immunotherapy drugs have also recently been approved for melanoma, kidney cancer and lung cancer.

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Tue, May 10 at 2:00pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Stroke Happens Regardless of Age, Race or Gender

a man lying on the sidewalk holding his chest, having a heart attack or stroke, with a woman helping him and calling for help on the phone

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke.

Often called a brain attack, a stroke occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts.

Although many people think of stroke as a condition that affects only older adults, strokes occur in people of all ages.

“Your stroke risk does increase as you age, but stroke can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender or race,” says Dr. David Miller, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

While death rates for stroke are falling, it remains the leading cause of disability in the U.S., according to the 2015 update from the American Heart Association, which estimates issues such as paralysis, speech difficulties, memory issues and emotional problems are significant in stroke patients.

“Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke, and getting emergent medical attention is critical, since some of the treatments are time sensitive,” Dr. Miller says.

“Thanks to advances in technology and medicine, we now have new treatments and therapies to treat stroke and reduce one’s risk of permanent damage – or death. But, the faster we can accurately diagnose a stroke and begin treatment, the better possible outcome.”

Know the signs and symptoms

Stroke symptoms typically occur suddenly and affect one side of the body. The most common signs of stroke include:

  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Facial drooping
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Double or blurry vision, or sudden blindness in one eye
  • Severe or unusual headache

If you recognize one or any of these signs and symptoms, call 911. Stroke is a medical emergency.

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Miller are available in the downloads.

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Fri, Feb 26 at 3:44pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Heart Health Challenge: Feeding Your Heart

Mediterranean salad with black olives, cheese, bright red tomatoes with olive oil dripping from a spoon

While research shows consuming food high in sugar, salt and saturated fat can increase the risk for heart disease, it’s often difficult to change your eating habits. Dr. Amy Pollak, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, encourages embracing a Mediterranean diet, which offers many heart-healthy benefits.

Dr. Amy Pollak's Heart Healthy Diet Challenge

Dr. Pollak's top three heart-healthy tips are as follows:

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables. Besides being low in calories and rich in dietary fiber, fruits and vegetables are full of important vitamins and minerals.
  • Use olive oil in cooking or salads instead of mayonnaise or other rich condiments.
  • Eat at least one serving of fish per week. There are many recipes on Mayo Clinic’s website and the American Heart Association's website.

Dr. Pollak also recommends reducing sodium intake, which can be a leading cause in high blood pressure, which can significantly impact risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Journalists: Broadcast quality video with Dr. Pollak is available in the downloads.


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Thu, Feb 25 at 8:15pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Heart Health Challenge: Mind Your Salt

a salt shaker on its side next to a mound of salt

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. In honor of heart month, Dr. Amy Pollak, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, urges making small heart-healthy changes to your diet, including reducing your salt intake.

For optimal heart-health, the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. Too much salt, says Dr. Pollak, can increase your blood pressure, in turn, increasing your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Dr. Amy Pollak's Salt Challenge


Tips to cut salt intake:

  • Check labels.
  • Choose low or no-salt options of foods.
  • Try a salt substitute.
  • Use herbs, spices or vegetables like onions and garlics to add flavor instead of salt.
  • Use a sodium tracker.
  • Check out the “Sodium Breakup.”

Here are recipe make-over tips that will help you reduce sugar, salt and fat.

See an earlier Mayo Clinic Minute on monitoring salt intake.

Journalists: Broadcast quality video is available in the downloads. (TRT 1:00)


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Wed, Feb 10 at 10:17am EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Feeding Recovery for Endurance Athletes

crowd of runners running in marathon or race

Whether running, cycling or swimming, when engaged in sporting activities for more than two to three hours at a time it’s important to replenish your body’s fuel store to rebuild muscle and ensure a necessary supply of energy for the future.

“Recovery is a hot topic now in sports nutrition and whether there is a two-hour window of recovery after training or participating in a race,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Erica Goldstein, who works on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

“The two-hour window is specific to endurance athletes, so the first thing I recommend to start the recovery process after an endurance run, ride or swim is to replenish carbohydrate stores,” says Goldstein.

“Additionally, most athletes who are training or racing for more than three hours at a time are likely burning protein for fuel as well as carbohydrates. So it’s important to restore protein as well, to help repair and rebuild new body proteins,” she says.

Drinking a carbohydrate-containing beverage that also includes protein soon after finishing is ideal, she adds. Chocolate milk meets these criteria.

It’s important, she adds, to take in the right amount of carbohydrates and protein to maximize recovery.

How much do you need?

After extended training or finishing a long race, Goldstein says athletes should consume 1-1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. Your body weight in pounds divided by 2.2 equals your body weight in kilograms.

For protein, approximately 20-25 grams of protein is ideal to consume at one time, within the first two hours of an event, to support maximal growth and repair. Good choices for protein include milk, whey protein or pea protein, which is often found in commercial beverages or as a powder. Dietary sources of protein include chicken, fish, eggs, or nuts and nut butters.

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Thu, Jan 21 at 2:58pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Carbs and Endurance Training: Tips for Success

man running, jogging, exercising on bridge
For athletes engaged in endurance sports – like running, cycling or swimming for more than 2-3 hours at a time – carbohydrates are a necessity to provide fuel to the muscles and are critical to go the distance.

Registered dietician and nutritionist Erica Goldstein offers a variety of tips to help athletes understand the best foods and options for carb loading during training.

“The top question I’m usually asked is what I should be eating during training,” says Goldstein, who sees patients on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

First, it’s important to understand what a carbohydrate is, she says.

“Carbohydrate is stored in the body in the form of glycogen, which is basically links of glucose – or sugar – stored in large amounts. Glycogen can be broken down during continual exercise to provide energy for muscle contraction,” she explains.

Examples of carbs

Fructose, glucose and sucrose are three forms of carbohydrates. These can be found in a variety of foods, including: fruits, like bananas, raisins and dates; and starch, like potatoes, pasta and rice.

Of course, there are a variety of sports-specific gels, chews and performance bars developed for athletes.

How much do you need?

The body can only store so much glycogen, so it is essential to consume carbohydrates during prolonged exercise, usually greater than an hour, to continue to provide energy to working muscle. “Otherwise, you may compromise your ability to finish your training,” Goldstein says.

According to research, she recommends consuming carbohydrates based on the intensity and duration of training.

  • 30 g after the first 60 minutes is enough for training lasting 60-90 minutes
  • 60 g per hour after the first 2-2.5 hours
  • 90 g per hour after 3 hours, dependent on high-intensity exercise (~75% of maximal effort)

Goldstein advises athletes vary the types of carbohydrate consumed. “Mix it up; see what works for your body and what you can tolerate,” she advises.

She also recommends reviewing food labels to determine total grams of carbohydrates in a product, as well as the specific ingredients (e.g., glucose, fructose, sucrose).

Journalists: Sound bites with Erica Goldstein are available in the downloads below.

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Fri, Jan 1 at 10:00am EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Welcome 2016 with Better Health

2016 new year sign with person reaching out to the sunrise

The New Year brings a lot of good intentions, including resolutions to lose weight, eat better and  live healthier. Starting off the New Year with an annual physical and several screening tests can help you make 2016 your healthiest yet.

"For someone trying to get healthy in the New Year, the most important thing I think is to know your numbers, including body mass index, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol," says Vandana Bhide, M.D., internist and pediatrician at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Fl. 

Additionally, an annual physical can provide an important snapshot of a person's health at a specific point in time, regardless of age. "Having this information allows us to help create an appropriate plan for healthful changes," she says.

Age, gender and family history will dictate the timing and necessity of other tests but Dr. Bhide recommends the following screenings for overall wellness:

She adds that the New Year is also ideal for children to have a check-up, including a review of immunizations. For teenagers, the HPV/cervical cancer vaccine may be indicated.

Journalists: Broadcast quality sound bites from Dr. Bhide are available in the downloads. 


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Nov 24, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Laura's Breathing Easy After Pulmonary Hypertension Surgery

In her down time, Laura Floeckhler, 45, enjoyed visiting the theme parks in her hometown of Orlando, Fla. But last year she started getting short of breathe and her legs began to swell. Walking was painful. She bought a cooler and kept it by her bed to avoid having to leave her bedroom. On Christmas night 2014, Laura was taken by ambulance to her local hospital, where she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a rare disorder of the lungs affecting about 30 in every 1 million people.

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. Mayo Clinic in Florida is one of 26 designated Pulmonary Hypertension and Vascular Disease Centers in the country, recognized based on patient volumes, comprehensive care, family support and research initiatives.

Thanks to a complex surgery known as pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, Laura is now breathing easier and looking forward to adventures with her first grandchild.

Learn more about pulmonary hypertension awareness

JOURNALISTS:  For an interview with Laura or her physicians, please contact Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs at [email protected] or 507-284-5005.

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Nov 24, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness

Pulmonary hypertension is a disorder of the lungs that affects the way blood is pumped and circulated.

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. About 20,000 people in the United States are being treated for pulmonary hypertension (PH).

Mayo Clinic in Florida is one of 26 designated Pulmonary Hypertension and Vascular Disease Centers in the country, recognized based on patient volumes, comprehensive care, family support and research initiatives.

Pulmonologist Dr. Charles Burger, who directs the Florida clinical program, likens PH to “a kink that develops in a water hose." And like a kinked hose, pressure builds up, he says, forcing the right side of the heart to work harder to increase blood flow to the lungs. Eventually, the heart enlarges and fails.

“There are five different categories of pulmonary hypertension, so this can be a very difficult disease to diagnose and treat,” says Dr. Burger. Some patients require a heart transplant or a heart and lung transplant.

There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, although a small percentage of patients who are diagnosed with a sub-type of PH that causes blood clots in the lungs are essentially healed if they undergo a complex surgery known as pulmonary thromboendarterectomy. Mayo Clinic in Florida is the only center in the south offering this procedure.

WATCH Laura's Story: Breathing Easy After Pulmonary Hypertension Surgery

JOURNALISTS: Animation and sound bites are available in the downloads. For interviews, please contact Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, at [email protected] or 507-284-5005.



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Nov 18, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

pancreatic cancer awareness purple ribbon

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center experts are available to discuss this often fatal illness, risk factors, treatments and advances in research. Pancreatic cancer accounts for only 3 percent of all cancers but is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, by the end of the year, 49,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and an estimated 41,000 will die from the disease.

Surgeon Horacio Asbun, M.D., from Mayo Clinic's Jacksonville campus and specializes in pancreatic and abdominal surgery, says pancreatic cancer is very challenging to treat. Due in part to its vague symptoms, pancreatic cancer is seldom diagnosed in the early stages. And with its proximity to other organs, cancer cells often spread quickly — including to the liver, gallbladder and intestines. "Surgery is the only chance for cure, but typically only about 20 percent of all patients are candidates, as often the disease has spread to other organs by the time it is diagnosed," he says. Those eligible for surgery usually undergo a Whipple procedure.

JOURNALISTS: Sound bites with Dr. Asbun are available in the downloads.
For interviews with Dr. Asbun  (in English or Spanish),  please contact Cynthia Weiss in Mayo Clinic Public Affairs at [email protected] or 507-284-5005.

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