What About Huntington’s Disease?

There are designated months for breast cancer, heart disease and mental illness, but what about Huntington’s Disease? What is Huntington’s Disease?

According to the Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo.,  Huntington’s Disease is a hereditary degenerative brain disorder which leads to both physical and mental disabilities.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 30 and 50, but can begin as early as 2 and as old as 80. Symptoms range from forgetfulness, personality change, and involuntary movement to difficulty swallowing, although each person is affected individually and may display different symptoms.

Who’s at risk?

Every child born to an affected person has a 50% chance of inheriting the gene which causes the disease. It affects women and men as well as all races. Currently there is no cure or treatment for the disease, however symptomatic treatments are available and a great deal of research is ongoing throughout the world.

Is there testing available?

For individuals interested in genetic testing for the disease pre-symptomatic, or predictive, genetic testing allows individuals who are at-risk for Huntington’s Disease because of a positive family history, to learn whether or not they have inherited the gene prior to experiencing any symptoms.

When should a person get tested?

The decision of whether or not to have predictive testing is a personal one, and not to be made lightly.  It’s important that those seeking testing receive adequate support, education and assessment of readiness before moving forward.

Prior to seeking testing, you may want to consider cost/insurance issues, emotional implications of results, effect on the family, practical considerations for long term planning, and other concerns.

When was Huntington’s Disease Discovered?

According to experts with Johns Hopkins, Huntington’s disease is named after George Huntington in 1872. It wasn’t until 1993 when a group of investigators discovered the gene that causes HD. As a result of this discovery it is now possible to diagnose HD with blood or tissue samples.

How long does it take to die from Huntington’s Disease?

According to experts The rate of disease progression and duration varies. The time from disease emergence to death is often about 10 to 30 years. Juvenile Huntington’s disease usually results in death within 10 years after symptoms develop.

The research for this disease is ongoing. It’s important to take time to research your family’s medical history. In some cases, when an illness or disease is diagnosed early there’s a better chance for medical professionals to offer treatment to help with symptoms; allowing for a better quality of life.

I will continue to research this topic. Please feel free to leave any helpful information regarding Huntington’s Disease.

For more information visit: https://neuro.wustl.edu/patient-care/movement-disorders-2/huntingtons-disease/

 

 

 

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