The Department of Health estimates more than 660,000 adults have diabetes including at least 330,000 in western Pennsylvania. To highlight the impact the disease has locally as well as around the globe, November 14 has been designated World Diabetes Day.
Since 2007, the World Health Organization and International Diabetes Federation have encouraged the world to light buildings blue to attract attention to the impact of diabetes around the world.
Locally, West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) will be shining blue lights at its facilities as well as educating the public about the severity of diabetes.
Free diabetes risk assessments will be offered at numerous locations on the 14th, including Allegheny General Hospital, West Penn, Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona and Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dr. Patricia Bononi, medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center affiliates at West Penn Allegheny Health System, said that people might not realize the severity of diabetes
“We are in the middle of a diabetes epidemic. There are 26 million children and adults in the United States that have diabetes. There are also seven million people who haven’t been diagnosed; but even more concerning there are about 80 million people who are at risk of diabetes, so this is a problem in the present and is going to grow in the future.”
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death among Americans, but Dr. Bononi says that number doesn't tell the full story.
“Among most people with diabetes, the most common cause of death between them is actually heart disease, so people don’t actually die from diabetes but rather its complications,” Dr. Bononi said.
“It is important to maintain vigilance and to try to prevent the onset of diabetes and the complications once someone has it.”