Intra-aortic Balloon Pump Therapy for Acute Myocardial Infarction: A Meta-analysis

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Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) therapy is a widely used intervention for acute myocardial infarction with cardiogenic shock. Guidelines, which previously strongly recommended it, have recently undergone substantial change.


To assess IABP efficacy in acute myocardial infarction.

Data Sources

Human studies found in Pubmed, Embase, and Cochrane libraries through December 2014 and in reference lists of selected articles. Search strings were “myocardial infarction” or “acute coronary syndrome” and “intra-aortic balloon pump” or “counterpulsation.”

Study Selection

Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and observational studies comparing use of IABP with no IABP in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Two reviewers independently extracted the data, and risk of bias in RCTs was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. We conducted separate meta-analyses of the RCTs and observational studies. Data were quantitatively synthesized using random-effects meta-analysis.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Thirty-day mortality.


There were 12 eligible RCTs randomizing 2123 patients. In the RCTs, IABP use had no statistically significant effect on mortality (odds ratio [OR], 0.96 [95% CI, 0.74-1.24]), with no significant heterogeneity among trials (I2 = 0%; P = .52). This result was consistent when studies were stratified by the presence (OR, 0.94 [95% CI, 0.69-1.28]; P = .69, I2 = 0%) or absence (OR, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.57-1.69]; P = .95, I2 = 17%) of cardiogenic shock. There were 15 eligible observational studies totaling 15 530 patients. Their results were mutually conflicting (heterogeneity I2 = 97%; P < .001), causing wide uncertainty in the summary estimate for the association with mortality (OR, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.54-1.70]). A simple index of baseline risk marker imbalance in the observational studies appeared to explain much of the heterogeneity in the observational data (R2meta = 46.2%; P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance

Use of IABP was not found to improve mortality among patients with acute myocardial infarction in the RCTs, regardless of whether patients had cardiogenic shock. The observational studies showed a variety of mutually contradictory associations between IABP therapy and mortality, much of which was explained by the differences between studies in the balance of risk factors between IABP and non-IABP groups.

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