Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease that causes certain nerve cells in the brain to waste away. People are born with the defective gene, but symptoms usually don't appear until middle age.
HD is a familial disease, passed from parent to child through a mutation in the normal gene. Anyone with a parent with Huntington’s has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene, and everyone who inherits it will eventually develop the disorder. In about 1 to 3 percent of cases, no history of the disease can be found in other family members.
Symptoms of Huntington’s
- Involuntary movements such as twitches and muscle spasms
- Clumsiness or balance problems
- Personality changes such as irritability, depression and mood swings
- Trouble with memory, concentration, learning new things or making decisions
- Age of symptom onset and rate of disease progression varies from person to person
- Later stage symptoms include increased difficulty concentrating, eating independently or swallowing
Treatment of Huntington’s
There is currently no cure for Huntington’s. Medicine can help manage some of the symptoms, but cannot slow down or stop the disease. Research on potential treatments is moving forward since scientists identified the gene involved.
Alzheimer’s Association www.alz.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Last Updated: 10/02/12