Munson Health
 
Huntington's Disease

Back to Document

by Alan R

(Huntington Chorea; HD)

 

Symptoms

Symptoms most often develop between the ages of 30-50 years. Symptoms are mild at first and are often barely noticeable, but usually worsen over 15-20 years.
Abnormal body movements that worsen over time, may include:
  • Sudden jerks or uncontrolled movements of the limbs or trunk
  • Facial grimacing
  • Continuous need to turn head and shift gaze
  • Walking that is unsteady or dance-like
Gradual deterioration or loss of intellectual abilities may include:
  • Difficulty with eating and swallowing, which may result in weight loss
  • Difficulty dressing, sitting, and caring for oneself
  • Grunting or poor articulation of speech
Loss of intellectual and behavior problems may include:
Ultimately, HD can:
  • Cause the loss of the physical and mental ability to care for oneself
  • Cause severe disability, making full-time or nursing home care necessary
  • Result in death, often due to a fall or pneumonia
 

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history (including family medical history). A physical exam will be done. Blood tests can rule out other conditions. You may need to have imaging tests, which take pictures of internal body structures. Imaging tests include:
MRI Scan of the Brain
MRI of the Brain
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
There is a test that can determine if a person has inherited the gene for HD. This test may help to make the diagnosis of HD. It may also help to determine if a person has inherited the HD gene before symptoms appear. Genetic counseling is recommended before taking this test to review risks and benefits.
 

RESOURCES

Hereditary Disease Foundation
http://www.hdfoundation.org

Huntington Disease Society of America
http://www.hdsa.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Huntington Society of Canada
http://www.huntingtonsociety.ca

 

References


A physician's guide to the management of Huntington's disease. Huntington's Disease Society of America website. Available at: http://www.hdsa.org/images/content/1/1/11682.pdf. Accessed July 19, 2013.


Fast facts about HD. Huntington's Disease Society of America website. Available at: http://www.hdsa.org/images/content/1/3/13699.pdf. Accessed July 19, 2013.


Frank S, Jankovic J. Advances in the pharmacological management of Huntington's disease. Drugs. 2010;70(5):561-571.


Huntington disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 31, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013.


Mestre T, Ferreira J, Coelho MM, et al. Therapeutic interventions for symptomatic treatment in Huntington's disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;8(3):CD006456.


NINDS Huntington's Disease information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/huntington/huntington.htm. Updated April 24, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013


Paulsen JS, Hoth KF, et al. Critical periods of suicide risk in Huntington's disease. Am J Psychiatry. 2005;163(4):725-731.


9/3/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Wippold FJ, Cornelius RS, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for dementia and movement disorders. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/ACR/Documents/AppCriteria/Diagnostic/DementiaAndMovementDisorders.pdf. Updated 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.

 

Revision Information