Skip to main content

The importance of platelet counts in severe hypothermia

To the editor,

I would like to congratulate Bunya et al. for their case report of a successful recovery of a patient after severe hypothermia published recently in the journal [1]. It is rewarding to see that their dedication and refusal to assume that the patient was dead resulted in successful recovery. I would like to comment on what may seem to be a minor detail in the report but would seem to me to be very significant. The authors report that the platelet count on admission was 14.7 × 104/μl, i.e., 147,000/mm3. This is a very unusual finding in severe hypothermia since thrombocytopenia is to be expected in this condition (especially in a patient with a core temperature as low as 22 °C) and is the basis of the bleeding complications that may be responsible for “rewarming deaths.” We have described this in infants who have become hypothermic and have shown that the thrombocytopenia becomes much more marked on rewarming due to priming of the platelets by the cold [2, 3]. We have shown (in blood from adults) that below 30 °C the second phase of platelet aggregation and release of dense granules is blocked but that rewarming causes massive activation of platelets.

Aspirin has been shown to prevent these rewarming changes [4], and other compounds have been shown to affect platelet function in a similar way. A possible explanation for the lack of thrombocytopenia in this case is the “premedication” the patient took with sleeping tablets [5] and alcohol [6] both of which may well have prevented both the thrombocytopenia and also the deepening of the platelet count on rewarming and thus avoided this potentially fatal complication during recovery. It is important that the treating physicians of other patients without such “premedication” are aware of the importance of following the platelet counts especially as the patients are being rewarmed, since giving platelets at that stage has been shown to prevent any bleeding complications [2] and a lack of awareness of the importance of thrombocytopenia may result in unexplained mortality.

Availability of data and materials

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.


  1. Bunya N, Sawamoto K, Kakizaki R, Wada K, Katayama Y, Mizuno H, et al. Successful resuscitation for cardiac arrest due to severe accidental hypothermia accompanied by mandibular rigidity: a case of cold stiffening mimicking rigor mortis. Int J of Emerg Med. 2018;11:46–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Cohen IJ, Amir J, Gedaliah A, Rachmal A, Gorodischer R, Zaizov R. Thrombocytopenia of neonatal cold injury. The J of Ped. 1984;104:620–2.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Cohen IJ. Room temperature ADP –induced first stage hyperaggregation of human platelets :the cause of rewarming deaths by thrombocytopenia in neonatal cold injury. Ped Hematol and Oncol. 1991;8:61–7.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Cohen IJ, Fuchs J, Kaplinski C, Krugliak J, Stark B, Vogel R, et al. Room temperature ADP induced first stage hyperaggregation of human blood platelets:a previously undescribed phenomenom and its relationship to spontaneous cold induced platelet aggregation. B J Haematol. 1987;65:331–4 errata notice 1987;67:121.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Romstedt K, Aakbar H. Benzodiazepines inhibit human platelet activation: comparison of the mechanism of antiplatelet actions of flurazepam and diazepam. Thromb Res. 1985;38:361–74.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Renaud SC, Ruf JC. Effect of alcohol on platelet function. Clin Chimica Acta. 1996;264:77–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references




No funding was received.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Everything was done by Prof IJC. The author read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ian Joseph Cohen.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not required (no studies involving human participants, human data, or human tissue).

Consent for publication

Not required (contains no individual person’s data in any form (including individual details, images, or videos))

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cohen, I.J. The importance of platelet counts in severe hypothermia. Int J Emerg Med 12, 17 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Hypothermia thrombocytopenia
  • Rewarming deaths