Being unemployed may increase your risk of heart attack, says a new study. Researchers say that losing a job or spending time unemployed may be as bad for your health as smoking or obesity.

The study was based on more than 13,000 adults living in the U.S. The study found that the risk of heart attack increased after job-loss and the inability to find another job. Both men and women across all ethnic groups had increased risk of heart attack after loss of a job.

"Results demonstrated that several features of one's past and present employment increased risks for a cardiovascular event. Although the risks for AMI were most significant in the first year after job loss, unemployment status, cumulative number of job losses and cumulative time unemployed were each independently associated with increased risk for AMI," the authors note.

The data for the study was collected from adults between ages 51 and 75 years in the Health and Retirement Study with biennial follow-up interviews from 1992 to 2010. There were about 1,061 AMI events (7.9 percent) during the study period. 14 percent of people in the study group were unemployed, more than 60 percent had one job-loss and 35 percent had spent time unemployed.

"This [the study] confirms other work that shows life stressors can increase your risk of a heart attack .Being out of work can be very stressful. But we still don't know how stress effects cardiovascular risk. It's an area that needs more research," said Dr Donna Arnett, of the American Heart Association, BBC reports. She added that "doing some exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels."

Previous research has shown that economic slowdown in the U.S. have led to an increase in suicide rates in the country.

The study is published in the Journal Archives of Internal Medicine.