Podcast: Living Better, Living Longer

Published: September, 2019

Harvard Health Publishing's podcast Living Better, Living Longer brings you the amazing expertise of Harvard Medical School's 11,000-member faculty. Living Better Living Longer will be covering smart ways to lose weight, the latest guidance on blood pressure and cholesterol, terrific ways to stay fit...and more.

Episode 52: Thoughts on COVID-19 during this year's flu season

Airdate: 10/9/2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, and the annual flu season fast approaching, what can people expect when these two illnesses collide? Are we at greater risk for getting either virus? And could this encounter change how we approach health care now and in the future? Matthew Solan, executive editor of the Harvard Men's Health Watch, talks to Dr. Amy Sherman, an infectious disease expert with Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, about what we may expect when COVID and the flu season meet. To learn more check out our Harvard Medical School Guide, COVID-19, Flu and Colds.

Episode 51: Heat-related illness: A danger even as summer ends

Airdate: 9/28/2020

Recent record temperatures in the U.S. suggest that heat-related illness isn't confined to the dog days of summer. Dr. Aaron Bernstein, the interim director of the Center for Climate Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, describes the symptoms to watch out for, particularly if you have a chronic condition like heart disease or diabetes, and explains what safety steps to take. He also tells Francesca Coltrera, editor of the Harvard Health Blog, who bears the brunt of potentially life-threatening heat-related illness and how local actions can help reverse this growing health threat.

Episode 50: Taking a Tour of the Male Genitourinary System

Airdate: 9/8/2020

Right up there on the list of unpleasant medical topics best avoided includes problems that can befall the male genitourinary system. Despite its prosaic purpose, the machinery associated with eliminating waste and fostering procreation possesses a certain artfulness. Usually it can be safely ignored, functioning faithfully in the background...until something goes awry and this delicate plumbing gets our undivided attention. We asked Dr. Marc Garnick to take us on a tour of the system that voids waste and engages in reproduction. He's the Gorman Brothers Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. At the end of this podcast we'll have some takeaways from the Harvard Annual Prostate Disease Guide.

Episode 49: Are you taking too many medications?

Airdate: 8/17/2020

Your daily dose of prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or supplements can add up quickly. But as you take more pills, you increase your risk for potential problems. Harvard Health Letter Executive Editor Heidi Godman spoke with pharmacist Joanne Doyle Petrongolo from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital for advice about ways to reduce your pill burden. For more information, check out our Harvard Special Health Report Aging in Place.

Episode 48: Shortcuts to improve your concentration

Airdate: 8/3/2020

Information overload, aging, underlying conditions—they can all cause your concentration to become fragmented. And if you're wondering how to focus enough to get through your work or chores, we have the answers. Harvard Health Letter Executive Editor Heidi Godman spoke with neurologist Kirk Daffner and neuropsychologist Kim Willment, both of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, to find out about easy ways to boost your focus. For more information, check out our Harvard Medical School Guide Improving Concentration and Focus.

Episode 47: Back to school: It's never been more complicated

Airdate: 7/30/2020

Sending kids back to school in the fall is always a hopeful time in America. For most families, school is a vital part of the community. With the surge in coronavirus in many areas of the country, getting kids back in the classroom safely will require a major re-evaluation to reduce transmission rates that can impact people of all ages. We talked to Alan Geller, a senior lecturer in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Like it or not, for school teachers and administrators, things are going to be different. Don't expect the traditional.

Episode 46: Walking for health: Doing it right means thinking it through

Airdate: 7/9/2020

If you thought creating a good walking program was as easy as slipping on your sneakers, think again. Sure we've all been walking since toddlerhood, but taking advantage of walking's lifelong health benefits also means thinking about fall prevention, dressing in layers as the weather changes, even considering different walking techniques and styles. Harvard Fitness Advisor Michele Stanten, author of the Harvard Health Publishing special health report on Walking for Health, describes how to get the most out this easy, fundamental exercise routine.

Episode 45: Coronavirus Update: We're facing the start of a second wave

Airdate: 6/11/2020

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, head of the Harvard Global Health Institute, offers information on where we are where we're going with the COVID-19 outbreak. Some take-aways:

  • Communications missteps by the WHO regarding asymptomatic transmission have been quickly corrected. Yes, you can catch COVID-19 from people who are not showing symptoms.
  • A second wave has begun, particularly in the south and Midwest. And calculations show we'll reach more than 200,000 COVID-19 related deaths by September.
  • Jha offers advice for parents, teachers and administrators on workable back-to-school scenarios.
  • We know you don't want to hear it, but COVID-19 will be a fact of global life for the rest of the year until a vaccine becomes widely available.

Episode 44: Curious about Tai Chi? This basic Q&A will get you started

Airdate: 5/29/2020

The slow, steady, coordinated movements associated with the ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi provides a remarkable mind-body exercise for people of any age. Harvard's Dr. Peter Wayne has studied Tai Chi's myriad benefits, particularly how a regular practice of Tai Chi can help prevent falls, ease stress, or lower blood pressure. He's the faculty editor of the Harvard special health report An Introduction to Tai Chi.

Episode 43: Getting a good night's sleep: Make lifestyle changes a priority

Airdate: 5/20/2020

Sooner or later, most of us have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. If that sounds like you, rest assured there are ways of meeting the challenge if you make sleep a priority and make lifestyle adjustments that improve what the experts call your "sleep hygiene." We consulted Harvard sleep specialist Dr. Lawrence Epstein and learned there are myriad tools available in your sleep toolbox. Dr. Epstein is the faculty editor for the Harvard Health Publishing special health report Improving Sleep.

Episode 42: Your doctor is worried you might have diabetes. For the newly diagnosed what comes next?

Airdate: 5/20/2020

You're in for your annual physical and you hear the words "pre-diabetes" or "diabetes," based on an elevated A1C value in your blood test. This pivotal indicator has suddenly got your attention. But rest easy. Dr. David Nathan, faculty editor of the Harvard special health report Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes, offers hope and help for getting things back under control.

Episode 41: To stay sharp, challenge your brain. You can learn a new skill anywhere, anytime

Airdate: 5/13/2020

We're all looking for ways to build cognitive fitness and resiliency. The pathway to achieving that goal can be found in laying down new memories through skill building. It turns out it's never been easier to learn new things from home, as Harvard Health Letter executive editor Heidi Godman recently discovered. A solution is a mouse click away. Apps on your smart phone also offer easy ways to learn at your own pace.

Episode 40: COVID-19 and underlying conditions: Why symptoms may be more severe for people with chronic disease

Airdate: 5/6/2020

People who have diabetes, a heart condition, cancer, kidney disease or other underlying condition are impacted more severely if they contract the coronavirus. Harvard Medical School endocrinologist Dr. Enrique Caballero explains why. Dr. Caballero is on the staff of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and is the director of diabetes education in the post-graduate medical education department at Harvard Medical School.

Episode 40: Entendiendo como afecta la infección por COVID-19 a personas con enfermedades crónicas subyacentes

Airdate: 5/6/2020

Las personas que tienen diabetes, una afección del corazón o de los riñones u otra enfermedad crónica subyacente se ven afectadas más severamente si contraen el coronavirus. El Dr. Enrique Caballero, endocrinólogo de la Escuela de Medicina de Harvard explica la forma en que estas enfermedades favorecen infecciones severas por COVID-19 y como el coronavirus puede empeorar estas condiciones crónicas. El Dr. Caballero forma parte del personal del Hospital Brigham and Women's y es el director de educación en diabetes en el departamento de educación médica de posgrado de la Facultad de Medicina de Harvard en Boston, Massachusetts.

Episode 39: Angry? A global pandemic will do that. Here's how to handle it

Airdate: 4/29/2020

The sudden release of the stress hormone cortisol can help you get out of the way of a speeding bus. But the toxic effects of non-stop cortisol has a deleterious effect on health. If the worldwide shutdown is causing stress—then high blood pressure, headache, weight gain and other problems aren't far behind. We've consulted our favorite Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Greg L. Fricchione. There are ways to cool the fires of anger during these difficult times, giving you the tools you need to deal with major life events.

Episode 38: Got that stay-at-home bulge? Explore the mental side of weight loss

Airdate: 4/22/2020

In this reprise from last fall, Kathy McManus, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital, discusses changing behavior as a pathway to weight loss in this conversation with Harvard's Dr. Mallika Marshall. Their views appear in the Harvard online course 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating.

Episode 37: COVID-19 therapies update: There are three potential pathways forming a bridge to a vaccine

Airdate: 4/13/2020

You've probably heard the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroqine is getting a hard look as a potential therapeutic agent in the fight against COVID-19. However, as Harvard Health Publishing senior faculty editor Dr. Rob Shmerling points out, evidence remains weak. On the brighter side, he points to three potential avenues in COVID-19 research where therapies may be put to use while a vaccine remains in development.

Episode 36: You think you've got COVID-19. Here's what you need to do

Airdate: 4/8/2020

We asked Dr. Mallika Marshall, medical reporter for CBS-affiliate WBZ TV in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, how we should react when we start to experience a dry cough or perhaps spike a fever. Who do you call? How do you protect your family? When does it make sense to move toward an emergency department, and how should we prepare? Dr. Marshall is the host of Harvard Health Publishing's online course series, and an urgent care physician at Mass General Hospital.

Episode 35: Coping with coronavirus: How to get some exercise--safely--at home while sheltering in place

Airdate: 4/8/2020

We all know we need to try to keep moving during these unusual times of social distancing, but where do we start? We consulted Heidi Godman, executive editor of Harvard Health Letter, who's been researching this subject. Bottom line? Keep it simple.

Episode 34: Prostate cancer treatment milestones

Airdate: 4/1/2020

Dr. Marc Garnick is the Gorman Brothers Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the editor in chief of Harvard Health Publishing's Annual Report on Prostate Diseases. As the 2020 edition starts rolling off press, Dr. Garnick sat down to review major milestones in a 40-year career treating men who've been diagnosed with cancer in this most troublesome gland.

Episode 33: The gift of caring for a sick or elderly loved one

Airdate: 3/25/2020

All of us will have to step up to the plate at one time or another. But with some sensitivity and advanced planning, this phase of life can be uplifting for both the care recipient and the care giver. The key is communication—early and often—regarding broad goals and daily activities. Your guide is Dr. Suzanne Salamon, chief of clinical programs in the Gerontology Division of Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is the faculty editor for the Harvard special health report Caregiver's Handbook.

Episode 32: How to conquer your anxieties during the COVID-19

Airdate: 3/23/2020

Your feelings arise from a misaligned ratio of stress to resiliency. The more resilient you become the less stress you'll feel. Dr. Greg Fricchione, director of the Benson-Henry Mind Body Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, describes the tools and techniques for building resilience into your life during stressful times so we can better manage our anxieties.

Episode 31: The front lines of COVID-19: A doctor's eye view

Airdate: 3/20/2020

Dr. Todd Ellerin is an infectious diseases physician at South Shore Health in Weymouth Massachusetts, and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also serves as an associate physician at Boston's prestigious Brigham and Women's Hospital. He offers insight—and practical information-- from the front lines in the battle to stem COVID-19.

Episode 30: Coronavirus status report: Harvard public health expert Dr. Ashish K. Jha fils us in on where we are headed

Airdate: 3/19/2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused markets to collapse and worldwide health systems to become overwhelmed. When there's a global pandemic, it's nice to hear from the steady, transparent and yes even reassuring voice of experts on the front lines. We spoke to Dr. Ashish K. Jha, faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Jha's recent appearance on the PBS Newshour caused reverberations throughout the federal and state response system. Here's his update.

Episode 29: COVID-19 and the vulnerable: How we can help the sick and the elderly?

Airdate: 3/17/2020

There's a lot we don't know about the novel coronavirus that's shutting down the world. But we do know this: The sick, the elderly, the immune-compromised are particularly at risk. If you or a loved one fall into this category, there are some things you can do to help keep COVID-19 at bay. As Harvard's Dr. Rob Shmerling points out, it starts with situational awareness.

Episode 28: Prostate cancer treatment milestones: A pioneer looks back

Airdate: 3/18/2020

Dr. Marc Garnick is the Gorman Brothers Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the editor in chief of Harvard Health Publishing's Annual Report on Prostate Diseases. As the 2020 edition starts rolling off press, Dr. Garnick sat down to review major milestones in a 40-year career treating men who've been diagnosed with cancer in this most troublesome gland.

Episode 27: Your doctor is worried you might have diabetes. For the newly diagonosed, what comes next?

Airdate: 3/12/2020

You're in for your annual physical and you hear the words "pre-diabetes" or "diabetes," based on an elevated A1C value in your blood test. This pivotal indicator has suddenly got your attention. But rest easy. Dr. David Nathan, faculty editor of the Harvard special health report Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes, offers hope and help for getting things back under control.

Episode 26: Stress and anxiety in the time of COVID-19

Airdate: 03/11/2020

Dr. Greg L. Fricchione is the Mind Body Medical Institute Professor of Psychiatry at Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Here he places in context the worries we all feel when an infectious disease like the coronavirus COVID-19 comes calling. You'll be happy to know the stress you're experiencing is hard-wired into your mammalian brain as a well-known flight or fight mechanism. Digging a little deeper, we can come to understand that countering stress with a healthy dose of resilience can help us deal with these anxieties. Dr. Fricchione is the faculty editor for the Harvard Health Publishing special health report Stress Management.

Episode 25: Sensitive Gut: A review of major conditions and concerns

Airdate: 02/26/2020

In this return engagement, Harvard professor Lawrence S. Friedman describes the primary gut problems we may be heir to, from ulcers to colorectal cancer. He is the faculty editor for the Harvard Health Publishing special health report Sensitive Gut.

Update: A Harvard Infectious Diseases Doctor Looks at Covid-19

Airdate: 03/03/2020

Dr. Todd Ellerin is on the front lines of infectious disease containment and mitigation as the director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He's an instructor at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. We spoke to him this week to get an update on the rapidly developing story surrounding the coronavirus Covid-19.

Episode 24: State of art: How medical science can handle your enlarged prostate

Airdate: 02/19/2020

The handy euphemism for an enlarged prostate gland—which constricts the urethra and makes it harder to void—is weak stream. It's just one of the conditions tackled each year in Harvard's annual Prostate Disease Guide. Here, Editor-in-chief Dr. Marc Garnick explains some possible steps if you're experiencing the first subtle signs of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Episode 23: Boosting Energy: Safe, easy steps for feeling your best

Airdate: 02/12/2020

You feel alive, energetic, at the peak of your game. Don't you wish you could bottle it? For those of us who would like to boost our energy level, maybe you can. In this wide-ranging podcast, Dr. Anthony Komaroff, faculty editor of the special health report Boosting Energy and the editor-in-chief of Harvard Health Letter tells us there are lifestyle changes you can make today that will beat back fatigue and jump-start your energy....the elixir of life.

Episode 22: Mindful eating begins with switching quantity with quality

Airdate: 02/05/2020

If you find losing weight difficult, don't worry about how much you consume. Instead concentrate on eating quality foods like fruit and vegetables, lean animal or plant-based proteins and healthy fats. Then apply the portion control strategy of using smaller plates, smaller glasses and earlier eating times. These ideas come from Dr. Scott Butsch, faculty editor for the Harvard special health report Lose Weight and Keep it Off.

Episode 21: This year, resolve to challenge your brain

Airdate: 01/29/2020

Finding healthy, satisfying mental stimulation is one key to establishing a cognitive reserve, an essential component in staving off cognitive decline. But, as Harvard neurologist Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone describes, playing the same computer game over and over won't help. It's important to "cross-train" the brain with a variety of fun, challenging mental activities. Dr. Pascual-Leone is the faculty editor for the Harvard Health Publishing special health report A Guide to Cognitive Fitness. Click this link to learn more.

Episode 20: How to take control of your blood pressure today

Airdate: 01/22/2020

Home blood pressure monitoring is an easy way to spot trends and establish targets, especially if you want to measure the effectiveness of your anti-hypertension medications. And you can use that information to gauge how well you're doing on important dietary changes. Dr. Randall Zusman, faculty editor of the Harvard special health report Controlling Your Blood Pressure, joins us for an encore performance.

Episode 19: Do you or a loved one have prostate cancer? You'll want to listen to this

Airdate: 01/15/2020

There was a time when a diagnosis of prostate cancer meant a rush to perform radical prostatectomy to remove the prostate and the tumor along with it—with all the ensuing complications of incontinence and erectile dysfunction. To counter this rush to surgery, Harvard oncologist Marc Garnick, editor in chief of Harvard's annual prostate disease guide, describes a program of active surveillance of certain slow-growing cancers that leave a man's urological function intact. Not everyone qualifies for this approach, but it's certainly something you should discuss with your doctor.

Episode 18: Digestion and the brain. A gut grand tour

Airdate: 01/08/2020

Most of the time your digestive tract toils silently in the background, routinely taking in nourishment and expelling waste. But here's a key takeaway: Your brain is a critical part of maintaining this smoothly running system. Here to explain is Harvard professor Dr. Lawrence S. Friedman, faculty editor the special health report Sensitive Gut.

Episode 17: Resolved to lose weight this year? Make it stick with these simple changes.

Airdate: 01/01/2020

All of us at one time or another are concerned about excess pounds. If shedding those pounds is part of your New Year's resolution, take heart that it's not all about the calories you take in. It's also about simple achievable changes you can make today that will improve your chances of success. We talked to Dr. W. Scott Butsch, faculty editor of the Harvard special health report Lose Weight and Keep it Off to learn about easy changes you can start today that will last all year.

Episode 16: The gift of clear vision. The life-changing benefits of cataract surgery

Airdate: 12/25/2019

Clouded vision caused by cataracts is another consequence of aging. But surgery, while always serious, is becoming routine. And there's the side benefit of replacing your foggy lense with a corrected intraocular implant. Harvard professor Dr. Deborah Jacobs explains the procedure. She's the faculty editor for the Harvard Medical School Guide Clearing the Fog of Cataracts.

Episode 15: A happier you. Exploring the amazing power of mindfulness

Airdate: 12/18/2019

Closing out our three-podcast series on the science of happiness, Dr. Ronald D. Siegel discusses the health benefits of living in the moment. If you're new to this kind of mindfulness practice, all you need to start is a bit of gratitude. Dr. Siegel is the faculty editor for the Harvard special report Positive Psychology. Click the link to learn more.

Episode 14: Blood pressure control begins with proactive steps

Airdate: 12/11/2019

Here's a tactical approach to managing blood pressure that will put you back in control. Harvard's Dr. Randall Zusman explains that, with time and diligence, home blood pressure monitoring, plus steady improvements in diet, may help restore blood pressure to normal values without medication. Dr. Zusman is the faculty editor for the Harvard special health report Controlling Your Blood Pressure.

Episode 13: How can we make ourselves happier?

Airdate: 12/4/2019

There is solid, scientific evidence that being happy leads to direct health benefits. So that begs the question: How can we brew some of this magic potion that nurtures human wellness? Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, faculty editor for the Harvard special health report Positive Psychology shows us the way.

Episode 12: Pass the turkey. Hold the heartburn

Airdate: 11/27/2019

Here's the essential Harvard guide to taming the annual onslaught known as gastro esophageal reflux disease, GERD for short. Your instructor is Dr. Lawrence S. Friedman, faculty editor for the Harvard special report Sensitive Gut. The good news: There are a host of remedies available for this holiday scourge.

Episode 11: High blood pressure? Join the club. Management starts with knowledge

Airdate: 11/20/2019

The threshold for high blood pressure has moved from 140/90 to 130/80, and this change means millions of Americans are now considered "hypertensive." If you fall into this category, or you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure for a while, you'll want to hear Dr. Randall Zusman's helpful overview. Future conversations with Dr. Zusman, faculty editor for the Harvard report Controlling Your Blood Pressure, will focus on home blood pressure monitoring, dietary changes, and medications management.

Episode 10: The link between healthy and happy

Airdate: 11/13/2019

Positive psychology shows us the clear connection between happiness and wellness. In this first of three podcasts, Harvard professor Dr. Ronald D. Siegel explores the science of human flourishing, and how finding your happy place can add years to your life. In future podcasts, Dr. Siegel, faculty editor for the Harvard report Positive Psychology, will show us how we can actually create happiness through simple mindfulness exercises.

Episode 9: Want a healthy brain? Build a healthy heart.

Airdate: 11/06/2019

The link between heart health and brain health is clear and unbreakable. For optimum brain health, start working on cardiovascular wellness. It's as easy as portion control, and a walk around the block. We talked to Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, faculty editor for the Harvard online course A Guide to Cognitive Fitness.

Episode 8: Flu symptoms? It's shaping up to be a tough season. Here's a Harvard special report.

Airdate: 10/31/2019

We've all been hit with flu symptoms at one time or another, and the aches, fever and chills can last for days, with a cough often lasting much longer. Here's Harvard Health Publishing Chief Medical Editor Dr. Howard LeWine to give us an update on what's shaping up to be an especially difficult flu season. He's a faculty editor on the Harvard Medical School guide Cold and Flu.

Episode 7: Bad back? You're not alone. Here's what you can do

Airdate: 10/23/2019

It's estimated 80-percent of us suffer from some kind of back ailment, ranging from sciatica and nerve pain to muscle spasms. But Harvard professor Dr. Jeffrey N. Katz says there are some things you can do to ease pain and aid treatment well before surgery becomes necessary. It's part of our new online course on back pain.

Episode 6: How to boost your brain power

Airdate: 10/16/2019

Harvard neurologist Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone offers the six pillars of cognitive fitness, and describes how all of us can develop cognitive reserve. His encouraging take? Declining brain health is not an inevitable part of aging.

Episode 5: Inflammation's trials and tribulations

Airdate: 10/9/2019

Your body heals when it's injured through the process of inflammation. But when the inflammation response goes unchecked, it can cause a wide variety of disease across all body systems. Harvard's Dr. Rob Shmerling explains. He's the faculty editor of the Harvard Medical School Guide Understanding Inflammation.

Special Edition: Health in the news. Red meat less risky? And Zantac recall

Airdate: 10/04/2019

We've been told for years it's wise to dial back on the consumption of red meat, especially processed red meat. But a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested red meat can now be considered less of a risk. And heartburn sufferers were dismayed to learn Zantac was pulled from store shelves because of a possible cancer link. To learn more we turned to Harvard experts Kathy McManus and Heidi Godman.

Episode 4: The smart way to start exercising

Airdate: 10/02/2019

Dr. Howard LeWine, chief medical editor of Harvard Health Publishing, recommends that men who haven't exercised in a while begin at the beginning. Just take a walk. Any kind of activity will aim you in the right direction and you can build from there.

Episode 3: The mental side of weight loss

Airdate: 9/25/2019

Kathy McManus, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital, discusses changing behavior as a pathway to weight loss in this conversation with Harvard's Dr. Mallika Marshall.

Episode 2: Improving memory — First the good news

Airdate: 9/18/2019

Harvard doctors Mallika Marshall and neurologist Kirk Daffner discuss the upside of growing older when it comes to your memory. We become wiser. But Dr. Daffner also describes red flags you'll want to know about.

Episode 1: Welcome to Living Better, Living Longer

Airdate: 9/13/2019

Every Wednesday Harvard Health Publishing will interview Harvard physicians at the forefront of health, wellness, and medical research.

Image: Getty-Christian Horz

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