Huntington’s disease, often known as Huntington’s chorea, is a late-onset genetic disorder that causes severe neurodegeneration. The condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, though symptoms of the condition do not usually present before the individual’s mid-thirties. Huntington’s is, regrettably, fatal and as yet very few treatment options exist.
Motor Neuron Disease (MND; also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a group of rare, though fatal, neurodegenerative disorders that have affect around 222,000 people worldwide (Arthur et al., 2016). The progression of the disease is rapid, with most patients surviving just 2-4 years post-diagnosis (Rothstein, 2009). Most deaths are caused by respiratory failure. There is no simple diagnostic test for MND.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world, with over three quarters of a million people affected in the United Kingdom alone (Alzheimer’s Society, 2017). In the past, shorter life expectancies meant that the condition was once relatively rare – it was first formally described in a patient that had early-onset Alzheimer’s because so few people lived long enough for the disease to develop.
As the leading cause of age-related dementia worldwide (Gagalo, Rusiecka and Kocic, 2015), Alzheimer’s Disease is the focus of intense research. The disease is characterised by extracellular amyloid β plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tau tangles, though the symptoms of the disease (such as loss of language, impaired judgement and declining cognitive function) may be present before these plaques and tangles manifest. What initiates the formation of these structures – the ultimate cause of the disease – is unknown.
First described as a “shaking palsy” by James Parkinson in the early 1800’s, Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder. It primarily affects the motor system, though does often lead to some cognitive impairment. Symptoms include stiffness, loss of fine motor skills, shuffling feet, altered mood and impaired memory.
Despite the fact that, in terms of prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson’s Disease is only surpassed by Alzheimer’s Disease, there remains no cure. Treatments are purely palliative, seeking to manage symptoms and make day-to-day life easier for sufferers. Care options range from physical therapy to surgery, though some drugs have been developed that appear to alleviate the physical symptoms.
Strokes are a disease where time is of the essence. No matter how early one is identified, there is still potential for devastating outcomes depending on where the brain bleed is situation. However, early intervention leads to better patient prognosis as it allows bleeds to be contained and repaired, preventing further brain damage.