An intra-aortic balloon pump or IABP is an inflatable balloon that is surgically implanted into the aorta to help the heart pump blood to the body, and to improve blood flow to the coronary arteries.
When the heart is at rest (diastole), the balloon inflates, helping the blood to flow through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle. When the heart begins to contract(systole), the balloon rapidly deflates causing the blood from the heart to flow more forcefully into the aorta, and out to the body.
This device can be used for patients who have recently had a severe heart attack, and is often required to support the circulation for patients who are waiting for a heart transplant. IABP may be used as permanent treatment for some.
Visit Houston Cardiovascular Institute Website for more information.