Huntingtons Disease



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
  • CT scan
  • Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan
MRI Scan of the Brain
MRI of the Brain
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There is no cure for HD. Symptoms can only be managed.


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

  • Antipsychotics
  • Tetrabenazine
  • Deutetrabenazine


HD can be very difficult for a person and their care giver. Counseling and support groups can help a person learn how to cope with HD.


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

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.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.