What is Huntington’s Disease? Named after American physician George Huntington, who was the first to describe the condition, Huntington’s disease is an inheritable neurological disorder which affects movement, cognition (perception, awareness, thinking, judgement), and behavior and which gets progressively worse over time.
Symptoms of the disease most often manifests between the ages 35 to 55 years old. Nonetheless, features of the disease can also show from as early as infancy to the late stages of a person’s life.
The symptoms of Huntington’s disease vary from person to person. However, according to wikipedia,the “earliest symptoms are often subtle problems with mood or cognition. A general lack of coordination and an unsteady gait often follows. As the disease advances, uncoordinated, jerky body movements become more apparent, along with a decline in mental abilities and behavioral symptoms.”
Worldwide Prevalence of Huntington’s Disease. Around the world, cases of Huntington’s disease are found in 5-10 out of 100,000 people. There does not appear to be a difference in the numbers for men and women while some variance is recorded for ethnic groups and geographical locations.
For instance, rate of occurrence is highest in peoples of Western European descent, averaging around 7 per 100,000 people while only about one case per million is recorded for people of Asian and African descent.
According to nhs.uk, the rate of Huntington’s disease in the United Kingdom is 12 per 100,000 people.
Celebrities With Huntingtons Disease. Since we are all about celebrity health this month, we can’t post this write-up without including a list of famous people who were diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. Let’s begin our list with:
Charles Sabine, NBC News TV journalist. In 2005, he decided to take a genetic test to see whether he has Huntington’s, a disease which affected his father and brother. The test came back positive. He has since worked to promote Huntington awareness, research, and legislation.
More about Sabine from NPR:
“People like me are valuable because we can be the guinea pigs for the future,” he says. “It might be too late for me, but I might be able to provide the testing ground to find something that can prevent this awful disease affecting generations to come.”
By going public about his very personal struggle with Huntington’s, Sabine hopes to put a human face on this genetic disease that afflicts an estimated 30,000 individuals in this country and the families who care for them.
“I wouldn’t say anyone can be a television correspondent and go to Baghdad, but more or less anyone can do that,” Sabine says. “Not anyone can do what I’m doing now. And it just struck me that there was nothing else that I should be doing for as long as I can do this, because it serves a much greater purpose.
“So while I can still put a sentence together, I shall go and do my bit to talk about this disease and raise awareness about it.”
Trey Gray, drummer for country music duo Brooks & Dunn. Fox25 in Oklahoma City did a feature on Trey and his condition. Watch:
Gray was diagnosed with Huntington’s in 2003 although he suspected he had it because his mother and uncle also had the disease. Like Charles, Gray is involved in HD — short for Hungtington’s Disease — public awareness and education campaigns. He does not let his condition get him down but is worried about his children who have a 50-50 chance of getting HD.
More about Gray’s Huntington’s disease after the jump.