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  • Albert Gallatin BYERS (1863 - d.)
    GEDCOM Source ===@R1550929795@ 1940 United States Federal Census Operations, Inc. === GEDCOM Source ===Year: 1940; Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T627_3242; Pag...
  • Mary Abigail RATHBUN (1830 - 1915)
    GEDCOM Note ===She reside at 611 East Rich Street, Columbus, OH, at the time of her death.=== GEDCOM Note ====== GEDCOM Source ===@R1550929795@ 1880 United States Federal Census and The Ch...
  • Mary VAN ZANDT (1786 - 1854)
  • Albert Gallatin BYERS, III (c.1899 - 1982)
    GEDCOM Note ===SSN: 505.10.9019. In 1919, he lived with his parents at 1147 Oak Street, Columus, OH. A slightly later address, also in Columbus, OH, was 1272 Mooberry.=== GEDCOM Note ====== GEDCOM Sour...
  • Martha Carolyn BYERS (c.1916 - 1994)
    GEDCOM Source ===@R1550929795@ 1930 United States Federal Census Operations Inc === GEDCOM Source ===Year: 1930; Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1796; Page: 8B; ...

This project is for those WITH or WHO HAVE DIED from Huntington's Disease or complications that may have resulted because of this disease.

Huntington's disease (HD), also known as Huntington's chorea, is an inherited disorder that results in death of brain cells. The earliest symptoms are often subtle problems with mood or mental abilities. A general lack of coordination and an unsteady gait often follow. As the disease advances, uncoordinated, jerky body movements become more apparent. Physical abilities gradually worsen until coordinated movement becomes difficult and the person is unable to talk. Mental abilities generally decline into dementia. The specific symptoms vary somewhat between people. Symptoms usually begin between 30 and 50 years of age, but can start at any age. The disease may develop earlier in life in each successive generation. About 8% of cases start before the age of 20 years and typically present with symptoms more similar to Parkinson's disease. People with HD often underestimate the degree of their problems.

Symptoms of Huntington's disease most commonly become noticeable between the ages of 35 and 44 years, but they can begin at any age from infancy to old age. When disease onset begins before age 20, the condition is called juvenile Huntington's disease. Earlier onset often results in a somewhat different presentation of symptoms and faster disease progression.

There is no cure for HD. Full-time care is required in the later stages of the disease. Treatments can relieve some symptoms and in some improve quality of life. The best evidence for treatment of the movement problems is with tetrabenazine. HD affects about 4 to 15 in 100,000 people of European descent. It is rare among Japanese and occurs at an unknown rate in Africa. The disease affects men and women equally. Complications such as pneumonia, heart disease, and physical injury from falls reduce life expectancy. Suicide is the cause of death in about 9% of cases. Death typically occurs fifteen to twenty years from when the disease was first detected.


“Chorea” may be listed as the cause of death on Death Certificates prior to the 1870‘s if the person had convulsions, contortions and dancing.

Although Huntington's has been recognized as a disorder since at least the Middle Ages, the cause has been unknown until fairly recently. Huntington's was given different names throughout this history as understanding of the disease changed. Originally called simply 'chorea' for the jerky dancelike movements associated with the disease, HD has also been called "hereditary chorea" and "chronic progressive chorea". The first definite mention of HD was in a letter by Charles Oscar Waters, published in the first edition of Robley Dunglison's Practice of Medicine in 1842. Waters described "a form of chorea, vulgarly called magrums", including accurate descriptions of the chorea, its progression, and the strong heredity of the disease. In 1846 Charles Gorman observed how higher prevalence seemed to occur in localized regions. Independently of Gorman and Waters, both students of Dunglison at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Johan Christian Lund also produced an early description in 1860. He specifically noted that in Setesdalen, a secluded mountain valley in Norway, there was a high prevalence of dementia associated with a pattern of jerking movement disorders that ran in families.

The first thorough description of the disease was by George Huntington in 1872. Examining the combined medical history of several generations of a family exhibiting similar symptoms, he realized their conditions must be linked; he presented his detailed and accurate definition of the disease as his first paper. Huntington described the exact pattern of inheritance of autosomal dominant disease years before the rediscovery by scientists of Mendelian inheritance.

The condition was formerly called 'Huntington's chorea' but this term has been replaced by 'Huntington's disease' because not all patients develop chorea and due to the importance of cognitive and behavioral problems.


  • The length of the trinucleotide repeat accounts for 60% of the variation of the age of symptoms onset and their rate of progress. A longer repeat results in an earlier age of onset and a faster progression of symptoms Individuals with more than sixty repeats often develop the disease before age 20, while those with fewer than 40 repeats may remain asymptomatic The remaining variation is due to environmental factors and other genes that influence the mechanism of the disease.
  • Life expectancy in HD is generally around 20 years following the onset of visible symptoms.
    • Most life-threatening complications result from muscle coordination, and to a lesser extent, behavioral changes induced by declining cognitive function.
    • The largest risk is pneumonia, which causes death in one third of those with HD. As the ability to synchronize movements deteriorates, difficulty clearing the lungs, and an increased risk of aspirating food or drink both increase the risk of contracting pneumonia.
    • The second-greatest risk is heart disease, which causes almost a quarter of fatalities of those with HD.
    • Suicide is the third greatest cause of fatalities, with 7.3% of those with HD taking their own lives and up to 27% attempting to do so. To what extent suicidal thoughts are influenced by behavioral symptoms is unclear, as they signify sufferers' desires to avoid the later stages of the disease.
    • Other associated risks include choking, physical injury from falls, and malnutrition.

Support organizations

In 1968, after experiencing HD in his wife's family, Dr. Milton Wexler was inspired to start the Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF), with the aim of curing genetic illnesses by coordinating and supporting research. The foundation and Dr. Wexler's daughter, Nancy Wexler, were key parts of the research team in Venezuela which discovered the HD gene.

At roughly the same time as the HDF formed, Marjorie Guthrie helped to found the Committee to Combat Huntington's Disease (now the Huntington's Disease Society of America), after her husband Woody Guthrie died from complications of HD.

Notable People who died from Huntington’s Disease:

It is estimated that are one in every 10,000 people is affected by the disease. Hence, there are not too many famous people suffering from it.

Additional Reading:

  1. Wikipedia - Huntington’s disease
  2. Mayo Clinic - Huntington’s disease
  3. Genetics Home Reference - Huntington disease
  4. Medline Plus - Huntington’s Disease

Jump back to Cause of death portal (Found under the heading: Neurological Disorders)