International Huntington’s Disease Awareness Day Date in the current year: May 15, 2024

International Huntington’s Disease Awareness Day International Huntington’s Disease Awareness Day, also known as International HD Awareness Day, is observed annually on May 15 to raise awareness of a rare genetic disorder that causes the nerve cells in the brain to deteriorate.

Huntington’s disease (HD), also known as Huntington’s chorea, is a genetic disease that causes the progressive degeneration of neurons in the brain. Its symptoms are often describe as having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease simultaneously.

Although the disorder was first described in the Middle Ages, it was recognized as a distinct condition in the late 19th century. The disease was named after George Huntington, an American physician who published its first thorough description in 1872.

The usual onset of HD is over the age of 30. However, about 8% of cases start in the late teens; they are referred to as juvenile HD. The early signs and symptoms of HD are usually very subtle. They include mood swings, irritability, cognitive problems, and subtle personality changes. These symptoms often go unnoticed, especially when a person doesn’t have a family history of HD.

Psychiatric symptoms are usually followed by motor symptoms such as chorea (brief, irregular and uncontrollable movements), an unsteady gait, and a general lack of coordination. As the disease progresses, both motor and psychiatric symptoms become more apparent. Eventually the person becomes unable to talk, and their mental abilities decline into dementia.

As we’ve already mentioned above, HD is a genetic disease that is typically inherited from an affected parent, although about one tenth of all cases are caused by a new mutation. The disease is diagnosed by genetic testing to differentiate it from other neurodegenerative conditions.

There is no cure for HD. Treatments are used to relieve some of the symptoms and improved patients’ quality of life, but there is no way to stop the progression of the disease, and every HD patient eventually needs full-time care.

The typical life expectancy of HD patients from the onset of visible symptoms is 15–20 years. Death usually results from complications such as pneumonia, heart disease, physical injury from falls, choking, and malnutrition. Suicide is the cause of death in 7–9% of cases. The effect of behavioral symptoms of HD on suicidal thoughts is unclear, but up to 27% of HD patients attempt to commit suicide at some point.

International Huntington’s Disease Awareness Day was established by a group of organizations representing the interests of HD patients and their families in different parts of the world. They are the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Huntington Society of Canada, European Huntington Association, Chinese HD Association, Huntington’s Disease Canada, and the Argentinian Association for Huntington Patients.

International HD Awareness Day aims to raise Huntington’s disease awareness throughout the world, highlight the importance of genetic testing, and educate people about the available treatments that help manage some of HD symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.

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