Nervous System Home > Huntington's Disease

Huntington's disease is a disorder that affects the brain, causing physical, mental, and emotional problems. Although the disease is typically hereditary, 1 to 3 percent of cases develop without any family history. Early symptoms include mood swings, depression, and memory problems. As the disease progresses, intellectual tasks often become increasingly difficult. There is currently no cure for Huntington's disease; treatment usually involves managing the symptoms.

What Is Huntington's Disease?

Huntington's disease is a progressive brain condition that causes uncontrolled movements, emotional problems, and cognitive difficulties.
 
Huntington's disease is also called:
 
  • Huntington disease
  • HD
  • Huntington chorea.
     

How Common Is It?

Huntington's disease affects an estimated 3 to 7 per 100,000 people of European ancestry. The condition appears to be less common in other populations, such as African Americans.
 
In the United States alone, about 30,000 people have Huntington's disease; about 1 in every 10,000 people is thought to have the condition. At least 150,000 other people have a 50 percent risk of developing it, and thousands more of their relatives live with the possibility that they, too, might develop HD.
 
Huntington's disease typically begins in middle age. This form is called adult-onset Huntington's disease. There is also an early-onset form (juvenile Huntington disease) that begins in childhood or adolescence.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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