An intra-aortic balloon pump is a mechanical device inserted into the aorta, the largest artery in the body, in order to reduce the demand on your heart and help it pump blood. To insert the device, your doctor will insert a catheter with a balloon on the end of it into your groin area and thread the device through your leg into the aorta. The device is then positioned in the center of the aorta, below the heart. The balloon inflates and deflates with the rhythm of your heartbeat. An intra-aortic balloon pump is a short-term measure; many patients may need another treatment such as valve repair or replacement surgery, or a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).