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January 1985

Dysphagia in Huntington's Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Hahnemann University (Dr Leopold); and the Department of Medicine, Divisions of Neurology (Dr Leopold) and Speech Pathology (Ms Kagel), Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Chester, Pa.

Arch Neurol. 1985;42(1):57-60. doi:10.1001/archneur.1985.04060010063017

• Dysphagia is a common complication of Huntington's disease (HD) that is frequently responsible for the potentially lethal respiratory events of aspiration or asphyxiation. Twelve patients who had HD and a history of dysphagia underwent extensive multidisciplinary clinical examinations. All of the patients, regardless of the clinical severity of their disease, demonstrated impaired control of many voluntary aspects of food intake that affected swallowing efficiency. Abnormalities of the rate of food consumption, mastication, bolus transfer, respiration, and swallow initiation seem to be responsible for most dysphagic symptoms in HD. Less prominent abnormalities of the pharyngoesophageal phases of ingestion were also noted. Dysphagia therapy was initiated in 11 of 12 patients. All of the patients' conditions improved; a majority (8/11) of the patients returned to an unrestricted diet. This improvement persisted for as long as three years, while other clinical features of HD intensified.

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