Huntington's Disease Awareness Month

By editor
May 1, 2015

Most people don’t know what exactly Huntington’s disease is or what it actually looks like. It is a complex disease that presents itself in a variety of different combinations of symptoms. There are instances in which mass media has portrayed Huntington’s, as in the television series House M.D. with Olivia Wilde’s Character ‘Thirteen,’ but these presentations by the media only gives viewers a brief glimpse into the many aspects of the disease but here are the facts:

  • Huntington’s disease was originally described as a disorder by George Huntington in 1872
  • It is genetically passed down
  • A person with Huntington’s has a 50% chance of passing the disease on to their children
  • Huntington’s disease is uncommon. It is estimated 4-8 people out of 100,000 have the disease
  • The onset for the disease is around 40 years of age
  • Disease duration is about 17 years from diagnoses to death
  • Early symptoms include depression, anxiety, schizophrenic-like illnesses, and irritability
  • Diagnosis is usually made once motor symptoms appear i.e. restlessness, slowed eye movements, difficulties with balance and walking etc.
  • Neurologists are most often the provider that gives the clinical diagnosis based on symptoms, familial history and testing
  • The final progression is cognitive decline
  • There is no cure for Huntington’s disease
  • There is genetic testing to look for the specific genetic sequence associated with the disease
  • This genetic testing can be done at any age
  • There are medications to help alleviate symptoms

For more information on Huntington’s disease visit: www.hdsa.org
Information for this post was taken from Huntington’s Disease: A Clinical Review published in Neurology Reviews in 2011.

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