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Format: 04/25/2014
Format: 04/25/2014

News

West Penn Allegheny Health System and Super Bowl Champ Kendall Simmons Make Local Diabetes Awareness Blitz

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) physicians and diabetes educators will mark the American Diabetes Association’s national Alert Day on March 26 with a week of educational activities including a talk by former Pittsburgh Steelers right guard and diabetes advocate Kendall Simmons.

Simmons will share his personal experience with diabetes with students at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill. His presentation is sponsored by Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company for which he serves as spokesperson.

The American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) annual Alert Day is a day-long “wake up call” asking the American public to take a diabetes risk test to find out if they may be likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Alert Day is part of the ADA’s focused efforts to prevent type 2 diabetes by increasing awareness of pre-diabetes and encouraging people to explore healthier, diabetes-preventive behaviors.

“There’s much that can be done to prevent and manage diabetes,” said Patricia Bononi, MD, medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center affiliates at West Penn Allegheny Health System. “We hope to educate the public about the important roles that nutrition and exercise play in maintaining good health and encourage people to be screened so that they can avoid the health complications caused by diabetes.”

Dr. Bononi is part of WPAHS’ multidisciplinary diabetes awareness committee, which works to highlight the local epidemic of diabetes and promote healthier lifestyles. The committee has planned a week of events around the ADA Alert Day, including a continuing education program focused on diabetes for local nurses on March 19 and an informative and inspirational talk about living with diabetes for students at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School on March 20 at 1 p.m., featuring Dr. Bononi and Kendall Simmons.

Following an outstanding rookie year in 2002, Simmons lost 45 pounds and nearly entered a diabetic coma after a strenuous workout during training camp the following year. The incident led Simmons to work closely with both his football team and his healthcare team to develop a “game plan” for managing his diabetes.

Though he lost significant strength just before training camp and was hampered through the early part of the 2003 season, Simmons made solid progress through the preseason and earned the starting right guard spot. He started in all 16 games that year and has gone on to share his personal experience with others to promote good diabetes self-management and raise general awareness of the condition.

On Alert Day, March 26, WPAHS will offer free diabetes risk assessments outside the cafeterias at Allegheny General, West Penn, Allegheny Valley and Canonsburg hospitals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 11:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Forbes. The public is invited to visit the diabetes Alert Day booths to be screened for diabetes and get expert advice on nutrition, medications and exercise from registered dietitians, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists. Healthy recipes and raffle prizes will be available at the booths and healthy and low carb meal options will be featured in the hospital cafeterias that day.

Diabetes strikes nearly 26 million Americans, and nearly a quarter of those individuals do not even realize that they have it. Additionally, about 79 million Americans (one in three adults) have pre-diabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Diagnosis of diabetes often comes years after onset of the disease, after deadly complications have had time to develop. Early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.

West Penn Allegheny Health System is home to three affiliates of the internationally recognized Joslin Diabetes Center with locations in Bloomfield, Monroeville and Natrona Heights. An affiliate of Harvard Medical School, Joslin Diabetes Center leads the battle to conquer diabetes in all of its forms through cutting-edge research and innovative approaches to clinical care and education.

The Joslin Diabetes Center affiliates at WPAHS provide patients with complete diabetes care using a team approach to treating diabetes and helping patients maintain better health. Our professionally trained team includes board-certified endocrinologists, certified diabetes educators, registered dietitians, registered nurses and nurse practitioners.

To learn more about Joslin or find a physician who specializes in treating diabetes, call 412-DOCTORS.

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