are currently no medicines proven to effectively treat the underlying causes of
HD. However, basic and clinical research has dramatically increased our
knowledge of HD in the last years. Many studies are ongoing to investigate its
pathogenesis and to find drugs that can prevent or slow down disease
progression (called disease-modifying treatments). Several promising treatment
strategies are now in the drug pipeline and may be available for clinical
trials in the near future.
Although there is
no cure for HD at the moment, some treatments do control the symptoms of the
disease (symptomatic treatments) and improve quality of life. These are divided
into pharmacological (drug) and non-pharmacological (non-drug) treatments. Pharmacological
treatments comprise any medicines used to treat the symptoms of HD. Non-pharmacological
treatments, such as psychotherapy, physical, respiratory, speech and cognitive
therapies, may also improve both physical and psychological symptoms of the
disease. For instance, improvements by
these therapies have been reported for mood state, motor control, speech,
balance, swallowing and gait.
Chorea, bradykinesia, irritability, apathy, depression, anxiety and sleep
disturbances have been reported as the most distressing problems of HD. There
are different options for the pharmacological treatment of these symptoms.
antipsychotics (neuroleptics) for chorea and hyperkinesias; antidepressants for
depression, apathy and other mood disorders; anxiolytic drugs for anxiety; and hypnotic drugs for sleep
disturbances. However, many medicines may cause side effects and some of them
may counteract others. In addition, the same medication may have distinct effects
in different individuals. Thus, the ideal balance has to be determined
individually by an experienced HD specialist according to the symptoms and
The benefit of a
special diet rich on vitamins, coenzymes and other compounds (e.g. creatine, coenzyme
Q10 and ethyl-EPA) for HD is much discussed but not clinically
proven. In the later stages of the disease, weight loss can be a problem and high
calorie diet may become necessary. Referral to a dietician may be helpful.