Huntington’s Disease (HD)
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited disorder that causes the progressive degeneration of the movement disorder centers of the brain. HD deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years.
People are born with the defective gene, but motor symptoms usually do not appear until middle age. We now know that psychological and cognitive symptoms can precede the motor symptoms by years.
- Uncontrolled movements
- Clumsiness and balance problems
- Personality changes
- Depression and suicidal ideation
- Changes in cognitive function and behavior
- Loss the ability to walk, talk and swallow.
- Memory loss/dementia
- Impaired judgment
- Involuntary movements
- Unsteady gait
- In end stages, patients can develop rigidity and slowness of movements.
A Quintessential Family Disease
If one of your parents has Huntington’s disease, you have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the faulty gene that causes it. A blood test can determine if you have the Huntington’s disease gene and will develop the disease. Genetic counseling can help you weigh the risks and benefits of taking the test.
Currently, there’s no cure for Huntington’s disease, however medications can help manage some of the symptoms. They cannot, however, slow down or stop the disease. Today, about 30,000 people in the U.S. have HD, and 200,000 are at risk of inheriting the disease.
Our Region's Center of Excellence Clinic for Huntington Disease
Erlanger’s Huntington Disease Clinic is an accredited Level I HDSA Center of Excellence in partnership with UT Knoxville and Vanderbilt medical centers. Our multi-disciplinary clinic is committed to expanding access to clinical care and services to improve the lives of patients and families affected by HD. Learn more about our HD clinic.