Open Access Research article

Pathways leading to coronary revascularisation among patients with diabetes in Finland: a longitudinal register-based study

Tuulikki Vehko1*, Reijo Sund1, Kristiina Manderbacka1, Unto Häkkinen2 and Ilmo Keskimäki1

Author Affiliations

1 Health and Social Services, Service Systems Research Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland

2 Centre for Health and Social Economics CHESS, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Health Services Research 2011, 11:180  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-180

Published: 3 August 2011



Chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease (CHD) challenge health care to provide systematic and long-lasting disease management. In this study of patients who were revascularized, we examine whether treatment pathways leading to coronary revascularisation differ between patients with and without diabetes.


This retrospective, nationwide register-based study in Finland in 1998-2007 describes temporal trends in the proportions of 1) revascularisations performed at the first treatment period, and 2) suboptimal treatment pathways to revascularisations, i.e. pathways containing several cardiac emergency hospitalisations. Differences between patient groups were examined using a logistic regression model adjusting for age, comorbidity, and region.


Among patients who underwent revascularisation, upward trends were found in the proportions of revascularisations performed during first hospital admission: among men with CHD alone, the percentages were 28% in 1998 and 77% in 2007; among men with insulin-dependent diabetes (IDD) they were 16% vs. 58% for the respective years; and among men with non-insulin dependent diabetes (NIDD) they were 25% vs. 69%, respectively. Among women the percentages were for non-diabetic group 32% vs. 77%; for IDD group 36% vs. 64%; and for NIDD group 33% vs. 73% for the respective years. Patients with diabetes were less likely to undergo revascularisation during the first hospital admission, in 2005-2007, the odds ratio (OR) for IDD among men was 0.52 (95% confidence interval 0.42-0.64) and for NIDD among men it was 0.79 (95% CI 0.73-0.86) compared to patients with CHD alone. The respective ORs among women were 0.59 (95% CI 0.44-0.78), and 0.83 (95% CI 0.74-0.93).


Treatment practices changed substantially during the study period to favour performing revascularisation during the first hospital admission. The large increase in coronary angioplasty operations is likely to be an important factor behind these changes. However, fewer operations are performed during the first CHD hospitalisation of diabetic patients who undergo coronary revascularisation and they experience more often emergency hospital admissions before the operation than patients without diabetes. To avoid adverse cardiac events, more attention is needed in managing diabetic CHD patients' referral pathways to revascularisation.