Calhoun County, along with Harrision, has the highest number of deaths linked to heart disease in the northern half of West Virginia. The statistics are based on heart disease among men in data collected from 1991-95.

WVU and the Centers for Disease Control have pinpointed the hot spots in West Virginia. Many of the southern coal counties have the highest death rates, and many other counties have startling numbers - but Calhoun and Harrision have 809-940 deaths per 100,000.

Gilmer's rate is almost as bad, but other regional counties, Wirt, Roane, Braxton, Ritchie and Clay are high risk.

The Appalachian region showed some of the highest rates in America. Dr. Ron Stollings, professor of medicine at the Rural Health Partnership said the lifestyle is partially to blame, using tobacco, having high blood pressure and cholesterol rates. A dozen or so southern coal counties also topped the statistics.

The Coronary Artery Risk Detection program studying fifth graders in Boone and Barbour Counties found about half of the students tested during the 1998-99 school year had high cholesterol levels. Blacks were at extremely high risk for death by heart disease.

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