Huntington’s disease (HD), also known as Huntington’s chorea, is an inherited disorder that results in death of brain cells. The earliest symptoms are often subtle problems with mood or mental abilities. A general lack of coordination and an unsteady gait often follow. As the disease advances, uncoordinated, jerky body movements become more apparent. Physical abilities gradually worsen until coordinated movement becomes difficult and the person is unable to talk. Mental abilities generally decline into dementia.
The specific symptoms vary somewhat between people. Symptoms usually begin between 30 and 50 years of age but can start at any age. The disease may develop earlier in life in each successive generation. About eight percent of cases start before the age of 20 years and typically present with symptoms more similar to Parkinson’s disease. People with HD often underestimate the degree of their symptoms.