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Huntington Disease

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Huntington Disease

(Huntington Chorea; HD)


Huntington disease (HD) is a genetic problem of the brain. It causes the body to move in ways that the person cannot control. It also causes thinking problems that get worse over time.


HD is caused by a certain gene that does not work properly. All people who inherit this gene may get HD.

Risk Factors

The chance of getting HD is higher in those who have people in their family who have it.


Problems often start between 30 to 50 years of age. They are mild at first and then get worse.

A person may have:

  • Changes in eye movements
  • Moving without control
  • Jerking movements of the arms, legs, face, or belly
  • Problems making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Lack of emotion
  • Mood swings
  • Problems walking and swallowing


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. The doctor may also ask if there are other people in the family who have HD. A physical exam will be done. Cognitive tests may also be done.

Blood tests will be done to look for the gene that causes HD.

Images may be taken to support the diagnosis. This can be done with:

MRI Scan of the Brain.

MRI of the Brainhttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=23962396si2089.jpgMRI of the BrainNULLjpgMRI of the BrainNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\si2089.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.23NULL2002-10-012553912396_11772Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


There is no cure for HD. Symptoms can only be managed.


HD cannot be prevented in a person who has the gene that causes it.


Medicine may be given to ease body movements. These may be:

  • Antipsychotics
  • Tetrabenazine
  • Deutetrabenazine




  • Exuzides, A., Matos, J.E., et al. Understanding the burdens associated with Huntington’s disease in manifest patients and care partners—comparing to Parkinson’s disease and the general population. Brain Sciences, 2022; 12 (2): 161.
  • Fast facts about HD. Huntington's Disease Society of America website. Available at: http://hdsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/HDSA_Fast-Facts.pdf?23ef42.
  • Huntington disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/huntington-disease.
  • Huntington's disease information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/huntingtons-disease.
  • Kringlen, G., Kinsley, L., et al. The impact of family history on the clinical features of Huntington's Disease. Journal of Huntington's Disease, 2017; 6 (4): 327-335.


  • Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.