Huntington's Disease, sometimes called HD, is a progressive hereditary disorder of the central nervous system which damages the nerve cells and causes a gradual loss of function. It used to be known as Huntington's Chorea. Usually developing in adulthood causing a broad range of symptoms, the disease affects both men and women in equal prevalence
How common is HD?
HD is a family illness. The symptoms of HD usually appear between 30-50 years of age. The risk increases with age and by 60, 95% of those at risk of developing HD do so. Between 6,000-10,000 people have HD, about 0.01% of the population in the UK
What causes HD?
HD is caused by a faulty gene on chromosome 4, discovered in 1993. The gene produces a protein called Huntingtin
The faulty gene leads to a damage of the nerve cells in areas of the brain, including the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex which leads to gradual physical, mental and emotional changes
Each person whose parent has Huntington's disease is born with a 50-50 chance of inheriting the faulty gene. Anyone who inherits the faulty gene will, at some stage, develop the disease. A genetic test is available from Regional Genetic Clinics throughout the country. This test will usually be able to show whether someone has inherited the faulty gene but no indication of the age at which they will develop the disease. If HD is inherited from the father it tends to be more severe
Currently there is no cure but there are many ways to manage symptoms effectively. Research & drug trials are showing positive results on slowing down the progression of the disease.
Juvenile Huntington's Disease
There is a 2.2% risk of developing this inherited condition before the age of 20yrs and is more severe - usually inherited from the father rather than the mother
Huntington's Disease Association
Regional Care Adviser:
Dee Boyd - 0191 373 1709
Branch Meetings are held monthly in the following areas: Newcastle, Easington & Darlington:
For further information, please contact the Regional Care Adviser above
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