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

a white male and a Black woman, both Mayo Clinic nurses in scrubs prepare COVID-19 vaccine syringes

COVID-19 vaccination rates stalling, infections from the delta variant rising
June 23, 2021

Summer and fall are going to be a dangerous time for people in the U.S. who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group

"I really think this exponential rise in the number of sequences that are delta must be taken seriously," says Dr. Poland. "We are seeing a surge again, in hospitalizations in the UK, because of the delta variant in people who have not been vaccinated or who only got one dose of vaccine. This is a really critical message for the public to hear because in the U.S. we are stalled in vaccination rates."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland talks more about a possible COVID-19 surge and being emotionally ready for the pandemic to be over. He also answers listener questions about COVID-19 reinfection, the latest on antiviral development for COVID-19, and the latest news about COVID-19 vaccines affecting menstrual cycles and sperm quality.

Barriers to care for LGBTQ community
June 21, 2021

June is Pride Month, which is celebrated annually to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, and the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender queer and gender nonconforming people have had on history. LGBTQ people often experience barriers to accessing health care and preventive services, which can result in disparities in both cancer risk and treatment. 

"Many of those disparities are rooted in stigma and discrimination that have really historically been an issue for this population," says Dr. Jewel Kling, chair of the Division of Women's Health in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Kling discusses cancer screening, prevention and treatment for LGBTQ people, and the importance of finding a trusted healthcare provider.

a futuristic 3D graphic image of a heart EKG, perhaps representing AI artificial intelligence

Cardiology pumps AI into patient care
June 17, 2021

When it comes to technology, Mayo Clinic is a leader in bringing the tools and science of artificial intelligence, or AI, into practice. In health care, AI is simply a way of programming a computer to process and respond to data for better patient outcomes.

Mayo's AI work in Cardiovascular Medicine uses computer algorithms applied to EKG to aid in early risk prediction and diagnosis of serious and complex heart problems. Early applications have used AI and EKG technology to show the difference between numerical and biological age, to screen for atrial fibrillation, and to detect a weak heart pump before a patient is symptomatic. 

"The use of AI will help us detect diseases earlier, so that we can begin treatment sooner, and can better utilize health care resources," says Dr. Paul Friedman, chair of the Department of Cardiology at Mayo Clinic. 

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Friedman discusses the latest research and applications for using AI in cardiology.

a young white college aged man wearing a face mask in a school building and coughing or sneezing into his elbow

Examining reports of heart inflammation in young people after second COVID-19 vaccine
June 16, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is holding an emergency COVID-19 meeting this week to discuss COVID-19 vaccine safety as it relates to news that young people may develop myocarditis after receiving a second dose of a messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle, is usually caused by a viral infection. But it can result from a reaction to a drug or be part of a more general inflammatory condition. Signs and symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and arrhythmias.

"There have been about 789 cases reported," says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "And that can happen for a whole variety of reasons." 

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland details the concerns about the myocarditis reports. He also discusses the latest news on the COVID-19 delta variant, and he explains what scientists are calling the "two-track pandemic."

an elderly white man with grey hair looking sad, worried, forgetful holding his head with his hands

Mayo Clinic experts discuss new Alzheimer’s treatment option
June 15, 2021

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved aducanumab to treat Alzheimer’s disease, which is a progressive brain disorder that is the most common cause of dementia. 

Aducanumab targets amyloid plaques in the brain that are believed to be an essential component of Alzheimer’s disease. But what does the approval of a new Alzheimer's drug mean for patients?

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist and director of Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and Dr. David Knopman, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, discuss the challenges ahead to identify the appropriate patients for treatment with aducanumab. 

a white or perhaps a Latina woman in a white t-shirt sitting on the edge of bed, holding her hand to her chest, out of concern, stress, worry, heart pain

Atrial fibrillation treatment improves quality of life for patients
June 14, 2021

Many people may be living with a serious heart condition and not know it. Because the signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation can be vague, people often think they are simply out of shape or just getting older.

Atrial fibrillation, sometimes referred to as "a-fib", is an irregular and often rapid heartbeat that can increase the risk of strokes, heart failure and other cardiac problems. During atrial fibrillation, the heart's two upper chambers — the atria — beat chaotically and irregularly, and out of coordination with the two lower chambers — the ventricles. Atrial fibrillation symptoms often include heart palpitations and shortness of breath. 

Treatments for atrial fibrillation can include medications and other interventions that try to alter the heart's electrical system. 

"Patients really do feel tremendous improvement in their quality of life when we keep them in normal rhythm," says Dr. Christopher DeSimone, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist who specializes in cardiac electrophysiology. On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. DeSimone discusses symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation. 

Why discussing racism with children matters
June 11, 2021

Children are always watching and learning behaviors from those around them, and parents are usually a child's first role model. But when it comes to discussing racism with children, parents and caregivers may wonder how to begin the conversation about race and bias, and what is age-appropriate to discuss with their children. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these three strategies for helping children understand and deal with racial bias:

  • Talk to your childrenand acknowledge that racial differences and bias exist.
  • Confront your own biasand model how you want your children to respond to others who may be different than them. 
  • Encourage your children to challenge racial stereotypes and racial bias by being kind and compassionate when interacting with people of all racial, ethnic, and cultural groups.

This edition of the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, which focuses on the importance of discussing racism with children, features an #AsktheMayoMom episode hosted by Dr. Angela Mattke, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center. Joining Dr. Mattke is Dr. Nusheen Ammeenuddin, chair of Diversity and Inclusion for Mayo Clinic Health System and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Communications and Media.

A dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic for those who are unvaccinated
June 9, 2021

If you've been vaccinated for COVID-19, you're able to go shopping, eat in restaurants and travel on airplanes without the same worry of becoming infected with COVID-19 that existed just months ago. But for those who are unvaccinated, getting infected with COVID-19 — even with just minor symptoms — should be a concern, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group.

"For those who have been vaccinated, life is resuming back to a sense of normalcy," says Dr. Poland. "But for the unvaccinated, they now live in a dangerous phase of the pandemic, where we're seeing circulating variants that are much more transmissible and may cause worse cases of the disease than what happened last year at this time. I think the people who are unvaccinated may not realize that."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland also offers information on more COVID-19 studies underway and he talks about COVID-19 vaccine research protocols that will be able to help scientists with other vaccine research, such as HIV vaccine research. Also, he answers listener questions, such as, "Does someone who has already been infected with COVID-19, really need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or would just a booster be needed?"

a Caucasian woman sitting on a couch, wearing a headscarf, perhaps a cancer patient having had chemotherapy, smiling and talking to a young African American or Latino boy, maybe her son

Cancer survivorship needs are unique for each survivor
June 7, 2021

June is National Cancer Survivor Month, and National Cancer Survivors Day was recognized on Sunday, June 6. Both events recognize and celebrate the millions of adults and children in the United States who have experienced a cancer diagnosis.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the U.S. Each one experiences cancer survivorship differently. 

Sometimes cancer survivorship means a cure. Sometimes it means living with the cancer. In other cases, survivorship involves a new normal that requires adapting to the permanent side effects of cancer treatment. Cancer survivorship is as unique as each cancer survivor.

On this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Kathryn Ruddy, associate director of Patient and Community Education and co-chair of the Symptom Control/Survivorship Cross-Disciplinary Group at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, discusses the needs and concerns of cancer survivors of all ages.

Study finds patients highly satisfied with telehealth
June 4, 2021

The use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic rose dramatically across the nation, including at Mayo Clinic. Telehealth has provided safe, convenient access to health care for people who needed to stay home to follow guidelines for social distancing and quarantines. 

Recent studies conducted by the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition found that patients and providers are highly satisfied with digital health care as a way to deliver care. 

The results of the patient survey mirrored the results of the provider survey released last fall. Of the 2,007 patients across the U.S. who responded to the survey, 79% indicated that they were satisfied with their telehealth visit and 73% expect to continue with telehealth care in the future.  

“The experience with telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has opened everyone’s eyes as the potential to deliver healthcare in much more safe and convenient ways," says Dr. Steve Ommen, medical director of Experience Products for Mayo Clinic's Center for Digital Health. "I think that years from now, we will point to 2020 as the year that the potential of digital care delivery became a reality, as long as the regulatory and reimbursement environment is conducive to its growth."

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Ommen discusses how telehealth is becoming part of the new normal in health care.