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Information About Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s disease is a disorder that causes degeneration of the nerve cells in the brain. It is caused by the inheritance of a defect in a single gene and is classified as an autosomal dominant disorder, which means that if one parent carries the defect, each child has a 50 percent chance of inheriting it. Because Huntington’s disease causes progressive degeneration in the motor control regions of the brain, as well as other regions, patients with this condition will eventually experience broad impairments, including movement disorders, cognitive disorders, and psychiatric disorders, which will grow worse over time.

Some other information that is critical to fully understanding the impact of Huntington’s disease on patients includes:

  • The rate of disease progression varies widely from person to person. The time from disease onset to death is typically between 10 to 30 years.
  • Clinical depression is a common complication of Huntington’s, and may result in an increased risk of suicide.
  • Eventually, Huntington’s will progress to the point that the patient will require assistance with all activities. Patients with advanced Huntington’s may be confined to a bed and lose the ability to speak.

Currently, there are no treatments available for Huntington’s disease that will stop or slow the progression of the disorder. However, Tampa General Hospital is committed to providing patients with compassionate, individualized care that can help to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. For example, our neurosurgeons have extensive experience performing deep brain stimulation, a surgical procedure that involves placing electrodes in a patient’s brain, which may reduce tremors.