Individuals at risk for Huntington’s disease (HD) have the option of undergoing genetic testing, which detects the presence or absence of the genetic sequence that causes HD. The decision of whether or not to undergo genetic testing is intensely personal, with many factors to consider. This chapter will provide scientific background information regarding genetic testing for Huntington’s disease
Humans spend an extraordinary amount of their lives asleep. If you sleep eight hours every night, you will have spent one third of your entire life sleeping. But like coffee or cell phone reception, sleep is one of the most basic aspects of everyday life that you probably take for granted—when you are well-rested, you probably do not think about sleep much, but after you have pulled an all-nighter (or two), you are likely to have a keen perception of your body’s intrinsic drive to go to sleep.
People have been consuming red wine for thousands of years. Although most people drink wine because of its pleasurable sensory effects, recent studies suggest that drinking red wine may confer several health benefits. Many researchers believe that these health benefits come from a compound in red wine called resveratrol, which has been shown to exhibit neuroprotective effects in several experimental studies in test tubes as well as in various organisms including yeast, worms, and mice
Families choose to discuss Huntington’s disease with children in different ways according to their personal beliefs about how best to handle this information. This article does not intend to imply that there is one right way to speak with children about this very difficult subject. The following information is based on the experiences of social workers and the families with HD with whom they have worked. Hopefully it can provide a starting point for communication, and can be adapted to individual families and circumstances.
The onset of Huntington’s disease (HD) is heralded by a wide range of symptoms, from behavioral ones, such as depression and irritability, to physically visible ones, such as bodily tremors, bradykinesia, akinesia, and dysphagia. As the disease advances, symptoms become progressively severe. Physical symptoms, such as involuntary movements, worsen, potentially leading to frequent falls. Although there is currently no cure for HD, there are many treatment regimens that may help slow the progression of symptoms. While most research is aimed at developing drugs and medications to help alleviate HD symptoms, physical therapy interventions also have the potential to improve the quality of life for many patients.
Everywhere we turn, we hear information about the benefits of exercise. From building stronger bones and muscles to reducing the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, the effects of physical exercise on general health are certainly far-ranging. In fact, a growing body of research is demonstrating that physical exercise is good for your body as well as your brain.
Here at HOPES we get many e-mails asking “What can I do for my friend or loved one that has been diagnosed with HD?” The answer, of course, is not simple and will be unique for every situation. But here are some ways that you might start to help someone you care about.
The practice of meditation is often viewed by Westerners as merely a form of relaxation. Many people assume that the benefits of meditation are limited to stress relief and decreased blood pressure. Brain research, however, is beginning to produce concrete evidence for something that Buddhist practitioners of meditation have believed for centuries: that mental discipline and meditative practice can physically change brain functioning and preserve and enhance numerous cognitive functions.
The Mediterranean diet, based on the dietary habits of the people of Crete, has become more popular to scientists and consumers, as studies continue to reveal its health benefits. For instance, studies show that the diet increases longevity and decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These promising results would suggest that studies investigating how the Mediterranean diet affects HD patients would be of interest the HD community.
Because of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, everyone is familiar with the concept of stress. We can easily recognize when we are feeling stressed because of the various physical sensations that arise from it. Some of the symptoms of stress include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, headache, and fatigue. However, stress can also have much more significant and long-lasting effects. Throughout the last few decades, scientists have investigated the connection between stress and disease. Although stress does not play a direct role in the onset and development of Huntington´s disease (HD) itself, it does have an influence on the course of the disease