March 1, 2013
Huntington’s disease is a disorder passed down through families in which nerve cells in certain parts of the brain waste away (PubMed). This disease has many different symptoms that vary in multiple parts to the body. Various types of tests can be done to determine how much brain tissue has been lost and how much the disease has progressed (PubMed). There is no cure for Huntington’s disease, but medicine is available to manage some of the symptoms (Medline). Many complications and life-altering problems result from Huntington’s disease.
Huntington’s disease is caused by a genetic defect on chromosome 4, which causes a part of DNA, called a CAG repeat, to occur more times that it is originally supposed to (PubMed). If a person has Huntington’s disease this section of DNA is repeated 36 to 120 times. Normally this section of DNA is only repeated 10 to 20 times. The number of repeats tends to get larger as the gene is passed down through families. “The larger the number of repeats means the greater your chance of developing symptoms at an earlier age.” Symptoms develop at younger and younger ages as the disease is passed down in families. (PubMed)
There are two different forms of Huntington’s disease. “The most common is adult-onset Huntington’s disease.” (PubMed) People with this form of the disease usually begin to develop symptoms in their mid 30s and 40s (Medline). If the onset begins before age 20, the condition is called juvenile Huntington’s disease (Mayo). “Earlier onset often results in a somewhat different presentation of symptoms and faster disease progression.” (Mayo) Children who develop the juvenile form of the disease rarely live to adulthood (Hennepin). This form of the disease accounts for only a small number of cases (PubMed).Both types of the disease are just as equal as the other in the amount of harm placed on the brain tissue.
“Huntington’s disease is...