How is the Impella® Heart Pump Different from an Intra-aortic Balloon Pump?

Your cardiologist may use either an Impella heart pump or an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) to help your heart pump blood during a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedure.

What are these devices?

The Impella heart pump and the IABP are medical devices that help your heart pump blood in a different way.

  • The Impella heart pump is placed in the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of your heart. It delivers blood from your heart into the aorta, the main blood vessel carrying blood to your body. This provides blood your body needs while allowing the heart to rest.
  • The IABP is placed in your aorta. A tiny balloon inflates and deflates with each heartbeat to assist the flow of blood from your heart to your body.

There are different kinds of Impella heart pumps. Your cardiologist may use the Impella CP® with SmartAssist®, or the slightly smaller Impella 2.5® heart pump. Cardiologists have been using Impella heart pumps to assist in PCI procedures since 2015. Cardiologists have been using IABPs since the 1960s.

How do these devices compare to one another?

Many studies have compared the Impella heart pump to the IABP. In fact, the Impella heart pump is the most rigorously studied heart pump in the history of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These studies show:

  • The Impella heart pump has fewer adverse effects than the IABP.1
  • Patients supported with the Impella heart pump have fewer repeated hospital readmissions compared to patients supported with the IABP.1

In addition, the Impella SmartAssist technology helps physicians open more blood vessels during PCI and more easily wean patients from Impella support after the procedure.


Next steps:


Read more on the blog


  1. O’Neill, W.W., et al. (2012). Circulation, 126(14), 1717-1727.