Mayo Clinic Q&A

From complex or serious conditions like cancer and heart disease to the latest news on research and wellness, host Dr. Halena Gazelka asks the questions and gets easy-to-understand answers from Mayo Clinic experts

Most Recent Episodes

The importance of physical activity for kids of all abilities
Apr. 9, 2021

When it comes to children, physical activity is important for development. Physical activity helps build strong bones and muscles and reduces the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity also reduces stress and anxiety, and kids who are physically active tend to perform better in school, including getting better grades.

The benefits of activity are universal, including for children with disabilities or different abilities. Participation in sports and activities can promote overall wellness and help kids with disabilities maintain a healthy weight, which is a common problem. Participation, especially in team sports, can also promote a sense of belonging.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Ask the Mayo Mom host Dr. Angela Mattke is joined by Dr. Amy Rabatin, a pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, to discuss why physical activity is important for children of all abilities.

a young adult woman, perhaps Asian or Latina, sitting in an airport with a suitcase and social distancing COVID-19 signs on the seats

Vacation travel, vaccines for teens and more COVID-19 news
Apr. 7, 2021

If you're fully vaccinated for COVID-19 you can travel domestically and where travel is allowed internationally, according to new interim travel guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even with those recommendations the CDC continues to recommend not traveling unless it is essential. Regardless, the CDC strongly recommends people continue to wear a face mask, practice social distancing and sanitize their hands.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccine research is continuing in teenagers. "The early data show equal safety in young people age 12 to 16," says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "I think this is going to imply that, somewhere between this fall and Christmas, we're going to be able to offer the (COVID-19) vaccine to every age group."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland answers a number of listener questions, including how long the COVID-19 vaccines are predicted to last and if the current transmission research still supports wiping down household items. Dr. Poland also explains why someone who has had COVID-19 should still get a COVID-19 vaccine.

a close-up of an older man with his hand to his throat, looking very uncomfortable, perhaps feeling something is stuck in his throat

Esophageal cancer is one of the deadliest cancers
Apr. 5, 2021

Esophageal cancer occurs in the esophagus — a long, hollow tube that runs from the throat to the stomach — and can occur anywhere along the esophagus. Men are more likely to develop esophageal cancer than women. While treatable, esophageal cancer is rarely curable.

"It's an uncommon cancer," says Dr. Shanda Blackmon, a Mayo Clinic general thoracic surgeon. "But it's one of the deadliest cancers we know." 

Dr. Blackmon says survival rates are improving, but many people don't realize they have esophageal cancer until it's in the advanced stages. 

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Blackmon discusses the risks, causes, symptoms and advances in treatments for esophageal cancer. She also explains what patients can expect with a diagnostic endoscopy and describes a new technique at Mayo Clinic that involves dropping a sponge down the patient's esophagus.

a young white schoolgirl in a classroom wearing a backpack, with other students all wearing masks and social distancing

What’s the latest on COVID-19 vaccines for children?
Apr. 2, 2021

Across much of the U.S., people age 16 and over are now eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19. But what about younger children? 

Children under 16 are not yet eligible to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for emergency use in adults, and public health experts explain that children will need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to reach herd immunity and stop the spread of the virus.

Clinical trials in adolescents and young children are underway on Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. This week, Pfizer reported promising early results. Johnson & Johnson also is exploring conducting clinical trials with children. This all begs the question: When will those under 16 be able to be vaccinated for COVID-19? 

This edition of the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast features an #AskMayoMom episode hosted by Dr. Angela Mattke, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center. Joining Dr. Mattke to discuss COVID-19, vaccines and children are Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious diseases physician, and  Dr. Emily Levy, a pediatric critical care and infectious diseases expert — both from Mayo Clinic.

surgeons in blue surgical gowns performing a transplant

2020 was a record year for solid organ transplants, even amid COVID-19 pandemic
Apr. 1, 2021

2020 was a record year for solid organ transplants, according to the Mayo Clinic Transplant Center. Despite the COVID-19pandemic the center performed the most solid organ transplants across its three campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, than any time in history.

"All donors are tested for COVID-19," says Dr. David Douglas, chair of the Mayo Clinic Transplant Center. "Anyone who had active COVID-19 would not be used as a donor. In fact, it's important to make that point because there have been no recorded cases of COVID being transmitted from the donor to a recipient from transplantation." 

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Douglas explains how the increase of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed care before and after transplants, and he addresses misconceptions about organ donation. He also talks about technologies in transplantation that are on the horizon.

Mayo Clinic medical staff person (a white woman) wearing PPE administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a a man, perhaps Asian American, also wearing PPE

A race between vaccines, the virus and variants
Mar. 31, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility is increasing across the U.S., as many states lower age requirements for those who can be vaccinated for COVID-19. By the end of March, the U.S. will have received 240 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 173 million doses of those will have been distributed, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group

"Our way out of this (COVID-19 pandemic) is getting a vaccine," says Dr. Poland. "But when there's misinformation and disinformation circulating about the vaccines, it scares people." 

Dr. Poland emphasizes the importance of relying on credible, reliable medical resources for accurate information.

He also has a message for young people, who think they are too healthy to get sick with COVID-19 and that they don't need a vaccine. "Even if you don't get seriously ill, that doesn't mean you won't have long-term complications," says Dr. Poland. "It also doesn't mean that you couldn't spread it to a member of your family or somebody else."

In this week's Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland talks about the chances the U.S. will reach herd immunity. Also, he addresses the rollout and confusion around the Astra Zeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, and discusses the COVID-19 hot spots in South America.

Mayo Clinic medical personel in scrubs, white jackets and protective face masks in a hospital corridor having a conversation

Commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity
Mar. 29, 2021

"Mayo Clinic stands united in strong commitment toward anti-racism and rejecting all discrimination," says Dr. Anjali Bhagra, medical director for Mayo Clinic's Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. "Our vision is to create a global environment of empowered belonging for everyone. This vision of belonging is a welcoming culture where all voices and perspectives are encouraged, acknowledged, celebrated and valued." 

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Bhagra talks about Mayo partnering with the World Economic Forum, and she describes what she calls an ecosystem of change that includes health care professionals, social scientists, life scientists and political scientists. Dr. Bhagra also defines the words "equity," "inclusion" and "diversity," and she explains what "social determinants of health" means.

a child patient with IV line in hand sleep on hospital bed with an adult holding her hand for comfort

Liver failure and transplant in children
Mar. 26, 2021

liver transplant is a surgical procedure that removes a liver that no longer functions properly and replaces it with a healthy liver from a deceased donor or a portion of a healthy liver from a living donor.

The process for liver transplant in children is similar to the process for adults. But because children with liver disease face unique challenges, it is important to have transplant surgeons with extensive experience in pediatric and adult liver transplantation. 

This edition of the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast covers liver disease and liver transplant in children. Guests on the podcast are three Mayo Clinic transplant experts: Dr. Timucin Taner, a Mayo Clinic transplant surgeon, and Dr. Sara Hassan and Dr. Samar Ibrahim— both Mayo Clinic pediatric hepatologists.

The Spike (S) proteins on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, give the virus its corona (crown-like) appearance. These spike proteins bind to receptors on healthy cells and fuse with their outer membrane. The SARS-CoV-2 then delivers its genome into the cell and uses the cell’s machinery to replicate itself.

Viruses can’t mutate if they can’t replicate
March 24, 2021

The COVID-19 virus mutates and replicates when people let down their guard and don't follow safety protocols, such as practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. 

"I think most of us expect a major surge because of spring break travel and the relaxation of restrictions," says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "And the sort of COVID fatigue that all of us feel, in one way or another."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland addresses the potential of a fourth COVID-19 surge, new information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women and he discusses research for next generation vaccines for COVID-19 variants.

a pregnant woman laying in bed looking at an ultrasound scan of baby

Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: The silent defects of congenital heart disease need lifelong surveillance
March 22, 2021

Children and adults with congenital heart disease need complex, multifaceted care for continued survival and quality of life. 

"These heart defects may be silent when a child is born and might only surface as the person gets older," says Dr. David Majdalany, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. Dr. Majdalany adds that many patients who were born with a congenital heart disease undergo an intervention of some kind and they think things are fixed. "They think they have no further need for cardiac surveillance, so they fall off the radar of getting followed because they feel so good," says Dr. Majdalany.

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Majdalany addresses the issue of pregnancy for women who have congenital heart disease. He also details the intricacies and seriousness of congenital heart disease, emphasizing the need for good transitioning from pediatric care to adult cardiovascular care.

Learn more about Mayo Clinic's Center for Congenital Heart Disease.