Health Buzz: Could H1N1 Get Any Worse? WHO Will Decide

Top 10 hospitals for heart care; why a strict “superfoods” diet is a mistake

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Could H1N1 Get Any Worse? WHO Will Decide 

We may not yet have seen the worst of H1N1, a World Health Organization committee says. Though the pandemic is proving weaker than those of the past, WHO's emergency committee, which advises agency director Margaret Chan, says the H1N1 threat could get a boost when winter hits the Southern Hemisphere, Reuters reports. Once agency experts decide that the swine flu pandemic has peaked, it could prompt a change in emergency measures taken by authorities. The committee will meet to assess the pandemic again in upcoming weeks. 

[Read As Swine Flu Wanes, Don't Be Fooled and 7 Swine Flu Facts You Need to Know Now.] 

Top 10 Hospitals for Heart Care 

Just about any hospital with a cardiology department and experienced cardiac surgeons can handle most routine heart problems—say, a case of newly diagnosed heart failure in someone who is otherwise healthy. Yet not that many can give the sickest patients, such as those who are elderly and frail but could still benefit from a new heart valve, the sophisticated care they need. 

U.S. News health rankings editor Avery Comarow offers up an overview of the 10 top-ranked heart hospitals in America's Best Hospitals annual rankings. Of the nation's nearly 5,000 hospitals, only about 800 see a sufficiently large number of challenging patients to qualify as candidates for the rankings in heart and heart surgery. The top 10 hospitals each admit an average of more than 3,000 heart patients a year in need of special expertise and skills. 

Like the majority of facilities in the U.S. News rankings, these 10 are teaching hospitals that develop and pass along new research findings and techniques to the greater medical community, Comarow writes. That is how bypass surgery and angioplasty, to cite two of many examples, evolved from risky procedures performed at a handful of facilities to become routine events that most community hospitals now handle safely and skillfully. Nine of the 10 also are on the list of Honor Roll hospitals that ran up high scores in six or more specialties in the most recent rankings. Read more

[Search: America's Best Hospitals.] [Read Top 10 Cities Where Coronary Bypass Surgery Outpaces Angioplasty and More Expensive Hospital Care May Not Mean Better.] 

Why a Strict 'Superfoods' Diet Is a Mistake 

We've all seen those lists of "superfoods"—certain fruits, nuts, and other foods that, advocates say, have health-boosting effects. Some people even take those lists so seriously that they limit their food choices to what's on them, U.S. News's Katherine Hobson writes. 

But getting into a rigid dietary routine isn't ideal, dieticians and nutrition scientists say. Many fruits and vegetables are chock full of nutrients, and variety is the key. A study published in 2006 in the Journal of Nutrition compared two diets. Both provided eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. But one diet included foods from 18 different botanical families; the other covered only five families. The researchers concluded that only the diverse diet "induced a significant reduction in DNA oxidation." DNA oxidation, or oxidative damage, occurs when molecules called free radicals wreak havoc in the body. Antioxidants like some of the vitamins and phytochemicals found in plants are believed to reduce this damage. Read more. 

[Slide Show: 8 'Superfoods' and Their Alternatives.] [Read 7 Must-Do's Before You Buy a 'Functional Food' and Vegetarian? 6 Tips for a Healthy Vegetarian Diet.] 

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