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    Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center

    A National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence

    Huntington’s Disease

    Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease that causes progressive degeneration of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. The deterioration of these nerve cells can lead to uncontrolled movements, cognitive problems, and emotional disturbances.

    Additional Information

    How common is Huntington’s disease?

    Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 people have been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, and another 75,000 are estimated to carry the gene that will cause the disease.

    Who gets Huntington’s disease?

    Huntington’s affects men and women equally, and disease onset usually begins in midlife.

    The disease is passed down from a parent to a child through a mutated gene. Each child of a parent with Huntington’s disease has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the gene.

    How is Huntington’s disease diagnosed?

    To diagnose Huntington’s disease, your doctor may review your medical history, conduct a neurological examination, and order lab tests to determine whether or not you inherited the mutated gene. Presymptomatic testing is available for those at risk of carrying the gene.

    Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease

    Disease onset and progression vary from person to person, but symptoms usually evolve slowly.

    Early symptoms of Huntington’s disease include:

    • Decrease in cognitive ability
    • Decrease in mobility
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Mood swings
    • Involuntary twitching and jerk movements (chorea)
    • Lack of coordination

    As the disease progresses, concentration, memory, and involuntary movements worsen. Eventually, your ability to walk, speak, and swallow are affected. Contact a medical professional if you are having symptoms.

    Treatments for Huntington’s Disease

    There is no cure for Huntington’s disease and no way to slow its progression. Medications may help manage physical and emotional symptoms, and physical and occupational therapy may help you maintain some degree of mobility and independence.

    • Date of last review: December 16, 2016

    About Barrow

    Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premiere destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.