Huntington’s Disease is a neurological disorder, a disease of the brain. It is a hereditary disease which is caused by a faulty gene on chromosome 4. In some way, which is not yet fully understood, the faulty gene leads to damage of the nerve cells in areas of the brain, including the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex. Since so much of the brain’s activity passes through these areas, the death of these cells affects virtually everything about a person, including movements, moods and thinking processes.
Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 30 and 50 years, though they may occur at any time from childhood to old age. An individual may have the disease for around 15-20 years however some people may have the disease for a longer or shorter period of time.
For those whose lives are touched by this disease the effects can be quite devastating.
In the UK, there are about 6000 people with Huntington’s Disease at any one time. Every child of a parent with HD has a 50% risk of inheriting the defective gene. It is not just the individual with Huntington’s Disease who needs support and help, but often other family members too. Family members may also play a major part in caring for the person with Huntington’s Disease.
With this illness the Huntington’s patient suffers from a triad of motor, cognitive and emotional disorders. It is of a complex illness with no two people being affected the same way.
More information about research, symptoms and treatment can be found on the main HDA website.