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BACKGROUND: Intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation (IABC) has an established role in the treatment of patients presenting with critical cardiac illnesses, including cardiogenic shock, refractory ischemia and for prophylaxis and treatment of complications of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI). Patients requiring IABC represent a high-risk subset with an expected high mortality. There are virtually no data on usage patterns as well as outcomes of patients in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent who require IABC. This is the first report on a sizeable experience with IABC from Pakistan.

METHODS: Hospital charts of 95 patients (mean age 58.8 (+/- 10.4) years; 78.9% male) undergoing IABC between 2000-2002 were reviewed. Logistic regression was used to determine univariate and multivariate predictors of in-hospital mortality.

RESULTS: The most frequent indications for IABC were cardiogenic shock (48.4%) and refractory ischemia (24.2%). Revascularization (surgical or PCI) was performed in 74 patients (77.9%). The overall in-hospital mortality rate was 34.7%. Univariate predictors of in-hospital mortality included (odds ratio [95% CI]) age (OR 1.06 [1.01-1.11] for every year increase in age); diabetes (OR 3.68 [1.51-8.92]) and cardiogenic shock at presentation (OR 4.85 [1.92-12.2]). Furthermore, prior CABG (OR 0.12 [0.04-0.34]), and in-hospital revascularization (OR 0.05 [0.01-0.189]) was protective against mortality. In the multivariate analysis, independent predictors of in-hospital mortality were age (OR 1.13 [1.05-1.22] for every year increase in age); diabetes (OR 6.35 [1.61-24.97]) and cardiogenic shock at presentation (OR 10.0 [2.33-42.95]). Again, revascularization during hospitalization (OR 0.02 [0.003-0.12]) conferred a protective effect. The overall complication rate was low (8.5%).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients requiring IABC represent a high-risk group with substantial in-hospital mortality. Despite this high mortality, over two-thirds of patients do leave the hospital alive, suggesting that IABC is a feasible therapeutic device, even in a developing country.