Due to their lower costs and shorter duration, cross-sectional studies have remained a common epidemiologic study design even among the elderly. In these studies, the role of risk factors potentially associated with lower odds of surviving up to old age needs to be interpreted with particular caution, however. For example, the decrease in prevalence of major cardiovascular risk factors at higher ages, such as hypertension, hyperlipid-emia or smoking, or even of certain chronic diseases, may reflect selective survival in addition to rather than changes of risk factors over time which have to be studied longitudinally (Corti et al., 1996).
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