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A­When the heart beats, an electrical signal passes from the top of the heart, near the atria, down through the ventricles, and the chambers contract in that order. On the left side, where oxygenated blood is coursing through, this gateway to the left ventricle is called the mitral valve. Once both ventricles simultaneously fill with blood, the atrioventricular valves slam shut, preventing blood from moving back into the atria. By this time, the heart's electrical signal has passed from the atria into the ventricles, so while the atria relax, the ventricles contract. It is the sound of these cusps coming back together to form a temporary seal that makes the sound we recognize as a heartbeat. Inside of it, there are four different chambers: two atria stacked on top of two ventricles. So when the upper atria contract, the atrioventricular valves sandwiched between the atria and the ventricles open, and the blood in each atrium flows through its respective valve down into a ventricle.


On the right side, where oxygen-depleted blood is passing into the right ventricle, it's known as the tricuspid valve.
Oxygen-depleted blood in the right ventricle leaves the heart through the pulmonary valve that connects to the pulmonary artery leading to the lungs. Each atrium is paired with a ventricle, and a wall separates them into two different shafts. These valves leading out of the ventricles represent the heart's exit doors, and together they're known as the semilunar valves. Oxygen-rich blood in the left ventricle, meanwhile, departs through the aortic valve that connects the heart to the aorta, the body's major expressway for the delivery of freshly oxygenated blood.
The frame of the tambourine represents the annulus, or the tough ring of tissue to which the valve's flaps are attached.
On both the left side and the right side of the heart, blood enters the upper atrium, files through a valve into the ventricle and then exits through another valve on the way out of the heart.


Once the passing electrical current contracts the ventricles, the blood inside them is forced through the open semilunar valves, which then slam shut. Now imagine punching through the top of a tambourine and it splitting into three equal-sized pieces across the opening.
All of the valves have three cusps, except the mitral valve, which has two, but operates the same as the others.



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