Affecting approximately 30,000 people in the US, Huntington's disease is a genetic disease that causes the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain over time. It is named for the physician who first published the precise symptoms and course of the disease in an article written in 1872.
Huntington's disease has a broad impact on a person's functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking (cognition), and psychiatric disorders. Symptoms of Huntington's disease usually develop between ages 30 and 50, but they can appear as early as age 2 or as late as 80. The hallmark symptom of Huntington's disease is uncontrolled movement of the arms, legs, head, face and upper body. Brain changes can lead to a decline in thinking and reasoning skills — including memory, concentration, judgment and ability to plan and organize — and to alterations in mood — especially depression, anxiety, uncharacteristic anger and irritability, and obsessive-compulsive behavior.