Natural history and burden of Huntington's disease in the UK: A population-based cohort study

Eur J Neurol. 2022 Aug;29(8):2249-2257. doi: 10.1111/ene.15385. Epub 2022 May 27.


Background: Huntington's disease (HD) is a rare neurodegenerative disease that presents with progressive psychological, cognitive and motor impairment. These diverse symptoms place a high burden on the patient, families and the healthcare systems they rely on. This study aimed to describe the epidemiology and clinical burden in individuals with HD compared with controls from the general population.

Methods: This cohort study utilised data from general practitioner medical records to estimate the prevalence and incidence of HD between January 2000 and December 2018. A cohort of incident HD cases were matched 1:3 to controls from the general population, in whom common clinical diagnoses, medications and healthcare interventions were compared at the time of first recorded diagnosis and at a time close to death. Incidence rates of common diagnoses and mortality were compared with matched controls in the time following HD diagnosis.

Results: Prevalence of HD increased between 2000 and 2018, whilst incidence remained stable. Prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses and symptomatic treatments were higher in HD cases than controls. A higher relative risk of psychotic disorders, depression, insomnia, dementia, weight loss, pneumonia and falls was observed in HD cases. Risk of death was >4 times higher in HD, with a median survival of ~12 years from first recorded diagnosis.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the significant and progressive clinical burden in individuals with HD up to 18 years after first recorded diagnosis.

Keywords: Huntington's disease; comorbidity; incidence; mortality; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease* / diagnosis
  • Incidence
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology