Huntington's Disease Life Expectancy
A Possible Cure For Huntington's Disease?
New advancements in technology and treatment provide a much brighter future for its patients. This article will give you a better understanding of one's life expectancy after diagnosis
What is Huntington’s Disease?
The first question that seems to come to everyone's mind when they are unforgivingly thrown a the curveball of this horrific disease is; WHAT AM I/my family member/friend in for? Huntington’s Disease is a neurodegenerative genetic, single gene disorder which is passed down from parent to child in which the nerve cells in certain areas of the brain essentially degenerate. This disorder affects muscle coordination and leads to a decline in the patient’s cognitive and psychological capabilities ultimately affecting their ability to think, talk, and move. HD is caused by a mutation in a gene on chromosome 4. The job of its protein product, when normal is to direct the delivery of vesicles containing important molecules to the outside of the cell. Normally, the region of this gene contains the DNA sequence of “CAG” repeated over and over varying from person to person; ranging from 10 to 26 times. People who have HD have an abnormally high number of the CAG DNA sequence, roughly 40 or more. The brain cells of HD patients gather bundles of protein that become toxic to the cells causing them to die.
Who is at risk?
Huntington’s Disease is transmitted from parent to child, meaning only the children of a parent who has the abnormal gene are at risk. Children of HD patients are at an extremely unfair advantage because they have a 50 percent chance of developing the disease. If they do end up getting the abnormal gene, and they have children, their offspring will also have a 50 percent chance of falling ill. However, if they do not inherit the abnormal gene, the disease will end with their mother or father, no longer being carried down their gene-line.
One of my parent’s has HD. What are my chances and can I be tested for the abnormal gene?
While there are tests available to children of HD patients, there are a few steps to take before the initial testing. Most testing programs include but are not limited to:
· A neurological exam
· Pre-test counseling
· Follow-up visit
The reason for the neurological examination, counseling and follow-up visit are to first determine whether or not the person requesting the test is showing any symptoms of HD. Once approved for the test, a team of the following specialists will be involved and closely monitor the patient:
· Genetic Counselors
· Social Workers
This team of experts will work together to help the at risk person decide whether or not testing is the right decision to make, and will very carefully guide and prepare the person for a negative, or positive test result. While the person may want more than anything to know their fate, HD is fatal, there is no known cure, and once they receive the information, there is no going back.
For the test itself, the patient will provide a small sample of blood that is screened in a laboratory for the presence, or absence of the Huntington’s disease.
When will Huntington’s disease appear?
Huntington’s disease typically becomes noticeable in mid-adult life between the ages of 30-50. However, there have been a few cases where patients have been diagnosed at a much younger age; as early as two years old.
Is there a cure for Huntington’s disease?
At this time, there is no known cure for HD. However, there are several medications and treatments that help to slow down the deterioration of the brain. Researchers and scientists have made great strides to beat this disease, and one day, there will be hope at the end of the tunnel.
Huntington’s Disease Life Expectancy
While there is no known cure for Huntington's Disease, new advancements in technology and treatment have been a huge aide in providing a much brighter future for its patients. The life expectancy and mortality rate for Huntington’s disease is something that many people tend to be worried about. Unfortunately, when it comes to an exact answer, there is no way of telling. Generally, once diagnosed with HD, patients can live from 10-30 years more depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Understanding Huntington's Disease
How To: Live With This Disease
How common is Huntington's Disease?
Someone I know is suffering from Huntington's Disease
The Inevitable Test
Would you get tested for the HD gene?
© 2012 BriannaGalapir