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Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure or have a condition known as mitral valve regurgitation (a backward leaking of blood into your heart), you may need to have an intraaortic balloon pump (IABP) inserted for up to a few days while you wait for a surgical repair. IABPs are also used in patients who are waiting for a heart transplant. The mechanical pump reduces the workload on the heart since it helps pump the blood.

Before the procedure begins, a technologist will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm that will deliver pain and sedating medication to help you remain comfortable during the procedure. A numbing medication will also be applied on the site where the catheter will be inserted, normally in the groin. Your cardiologist will insert a thin catheter in an artery in your groin and using x-ray guidance, will wind the balloon-tipped device into the aorta and places the balloon. The catheter connects to a computer that controls the rate of inflation and deflation.

While most patients only use the IABP for a few days, it can stay in place for up to a month. Patients who have an IABP must stay connected to the computer and lie in bed. The pump, which will be by your bed, inflates the balloon so that your heart gets blood and then just before your heart pumps the blood, the pump deflates the balloon. This creates a drop in pressure within your aorta, assisting your heart in pumping the blood more easily throughout your body.

The IABP will be removed after your heart stabilizes and function normally.

How to prepare for IABP 
Do not eat or drink after midnight on the evening before the procedure. Take your regular medications, but only have a small amount of water to take pills. If you take blood thinners or have diabetes, talk with your doctor about any special instructions.

Patients remain in the hospital until the device is removed. You will not be able to drive, so you will need to have a driver to take you home from the hospital. Your cardiologist will advise you of any special instructions and precautions once you are home.