A United States research has suggested that divorcees are more likely to have a heart attack than their peers who stay married.

According to BBC, an analysis of 15,827 people showed women were worst affected, and barely reduced the risk if they remarried.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, argued that chronic stress, linked to divorce, had a long-term impact on the body.

However, the British Heart Foundation called for more research before divorce is classed as a major heart risk.

During the course of the study by  a team at Duke University, between 1992 and 2010, roughly one in three people divorced at least once.

Women who divorced once were 24% more likely to have had a heart attack in the study than women who were continuously married. The figure was 77% for those having multiple divorces.

In men, there was a modest 10% extra risk for one divorce and 30% increase after multiple divorces.

Prof Linda George, who was one of the researchers compared the risk to high blood pressure or diabetes. When it came to remarriage, the risk was only marginally reduced for women while men bounced back.

Researchers found that changes in lifestyle, such as loss of income, could not explain the heightened risk. According to Prof George,  "my educated speculation is that we know that psychological distress is a constant stress on the immune system, higher levels of inflammation and stress hormones increase. Immune function is altered for the worse and if that continues for many years it does take a physiological toll."

Also speaking on the finding,Prof Jeremy Pearson, from the British Heart Foundation said it had been known for awhile that mental health can affect our heart health. He however said that the results were not definitive so further evidence would be needed before divorce could be considered a significant heart attack risk factor.

Meanwhile the researchers acknowledged that while tablets can reduce the risks caused by high blood pressure, there is no easy solution for the pain of divorce.

They therefore recommended close, supportive friends.