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Intra-Aortic Balloon Counterpulsation Pump

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

An intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation pump (IABP) is a device used for a short time to help your heart work normally. You may need an IABP if you have severe heart failure or other heart problems. Healthcare providers will watch your condition and tell you when the IABP should be removed.

Heart Chambers


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your foot or leg is cold, pale, has no feeling, or is painful.
  • The catheter site is bleeding, or it has pus or a bad smell coming from it.
  • Your catheter has started to come out, or has fallen all of the way out.

Call your doctor or cardiologist if:

  • You have shaking chills or a fever.
  • You have burning pain in the catheter site.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider 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.

Heart-healthy foods

are low in unhealthy fats and sodium (salt) and high in healthy fats and fiber. Your healthcare provider or a dietitian can help you create a meal plan that is right for you. The following are general guidelines:

  • Get more fiber by eating fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, and cooked beans.

  • Include foods high in healthy fats, such as walnuts, salmon, and tuna. Soybean, canola, and olive, oils, and soft tub margarine made with liquid vegetable oil are also healthy fats.
  • Limit sodium by choosing low-sodium or no-salt-added foods when you can. If you add salt to food you cook, do not add more before you eat it. Your healthcare provider can tell you how much sodium is okay for you to have each day.

Do not smoke:

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause heart and lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Follow up with your doctor or cardiologist as directed:

Your healthcare provider will need to check your IABP site. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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