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Intra-aortic Balloon Counterpulsation Pump


  • An intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation pump is also called IABP. It is a device used to treat severe (very bad) heart failure and some other heart problems. The pump has a thin flexible and inflatable catheter (tube) with a balloon on its end. It also has a gas container and a device that inflates (fills) and deflates (empties) the balloon. Monitors to see how the heart is working may be connected to the pump. The IABP is used for a short period of time to help your heart work normally. You may need an IABP if you have heart failure, or poor blood flow in your heart. It may also be placed to help your heart work before or after having heart surgery.
  • In your aorta (blood vessel), the IABP catheter balloon inflates (fills with air) and deflates (empties the air) at certain times. The balloon inflates when your heart is filling up with blood during a heartbeat. This increases the pressure inside your heart chambers, letting more blood and oxygen go into your heart. The balloon deflates just before your heart pumps blood out during the heartbeat, sending more blood and oxygen out to the rest of your body. The balloon fills and empties quickly, keeping pace with your heartbeat. The IABP can help blood flow and send more oxygen to your heart and your body. This may decrease problems such as feeling very tired and having very little energy to do things. It can also help your recover faster and better after having heart surgery.
    Anatomy of the Heart


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • Ask your caregiver when you need to come back to have your IABP site checked.

Good nutrition for your heart:

Get enough calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals to help prevent poor nutrition and muscle wasting. You may be told to eat foods low in cholesterol or sodium (salt). You also may be told to limit saturated and trans fats. Do eat foods that contain healthy fats, such as walnuts, salmon, and canola and soybean oils. Eat foods that help protect the heart, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and sources of fiber. Ask what a healthy weight is for you. Set goals to reach and stay at that weight.

Stop smoking:

It is never too late to quit smoking. Smoking increases your risk of having problems with your IABP, and also harms your heart, lungs, and blood. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have burning pain at the place where the IABP was put in.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, IABP, or medicines.


  • The leg or foot used for the procedure is cold, numb, pale, or very painful.
  • You have chest pain that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back, or your are sweating more than usual.
  • You have trouble breathing all of a sudden.
  • Your IABP insertion site is bleeding or has pus, or a foul-smelling odor coming from it.
  • You see that the IABP catheter moved or fell out.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Intra-aortic Balloon Counterpulsation Pump (Aftercare Instructions)

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