Huntington’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that causes certain nerve cells in the brain to deteriorate. As a result, adults afflicted by the disease experience uncontrolled movements, behavioral disturbance, and cognitive deterioration.
Huntington’s is an inherited condition caused by a single abnormal gene. If one parent has the faulty gene, there is a 50 percent chance that offspring will have the defect as well. The condition typically reveals itself between the ages of 30 and 45. Early symptoms often include personality changes, decreased cognitive abilities, balance problems and involuntary facial movements. As the disease progresses, patients often develop uncontrolled, jerky movements (called “chorea”), dementia, and problems with speech and swallowing.
Roughly 10 percent of Huntington’s cases occur in individuals under age 20. This early-onset form is different from the adult-onset form. Its symptoms include muscle rigidity (instead of chorea) and a more rapid progression.
Medications help manage the symptoms of Huntington’s but there is currently no therapy to prevent its progression.
Genetic Testing is the best way to know if you have HD. A blood test is available to determine if a person has the HD gene. The test cannot predict when symptoms will begin. Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms related to Huntington’s Disease.
The following therapy is FDA-approved for the treatment of HD.