Most people have had their blood pressure taken at some time. It's a simple and painless procedure that gives a lot of useful information about the heart and the condition of the blood vessels.

The systolic pressure is the maximum pressure in an artery at the moment when the heart is beating and pumping blood through the body.

The diastolic pressure is the lowest pressure in an artery in the moments between beats when the heart is resting.

Both the systolic and diastolic pressure measurements are important – if either one is raised, it means you have high blood pressure (hypertension).