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Huntingtons disease often abbreviated as HD is a brain disease that causes nerve cells in the brain to deteriorate Dr George Huntington originally discovered HD in 1872 HD was originally known as Huntingtons chorea coming from a Greek word meaning to dance which describes some symptoms of HD There are three main symptom areas those are movement cognitive and psychiatric Movement symptoms include sudden muscle spasms falling down difficulty speaking and in later stages difficulty swallowing which leads to extreme weight loss Cognitive symptoms include trouble learning new things difficulty multitasking trouble prioritizing and difficult communication in general Psychiatric symptoms of HD include mostly depression anxiety and irritability OCD with certain activities delirium and mania Luckily Huntingtons disease is very uncommon HD appears in about one and every 10000 Americans Males and females are equally at risk for inheriting HD There are about 30000 known cases in the USA and 150000 said to be at risk This means that one of their parents had the disease and they have a 50 chance of being affected Today there is no known treatment for HD However there is treatment for the symptoms Treatment requires counseling and education about the disease of both the family and the patient Medical treatment must be individualized since the symptoms are so varied in type and severeness Depression a common symptom can be treated with tricyclic antidepressants Some types of serotonic agents can treat obsessive-compulsive disorder another common symptom Neuroleptics or drugs that block dopamine receptors are useful in the treatment of chorea Currently there are five types of research being done on HD basic neurobiology clinical research imaging animal models and fetal tissue research Basic neurobiology uses the HD gene to understand how it causes disease in the human body In clinical research investigators observe the symptoms and progression of the disease in order to develop new medicine PET and other imaging solutions allow scientists to examine the damage done to
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