Professor of Cardiology
Maurice Sokolow, a distinguished faculty cardiologist, died at age 91 on September 26, 2002. He was chief of cardiology at UC Medical Center from 1953 to 1973, during which time he trained many cardiology fellows, and made important contributions to our understanding of electrocardiography and hypertension. He developed ECG criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy which are still in common use today (Sokolow criteria). His greatest contributions, however, were in the area of hypertension. He helped develop an ambulatory blood pressure recorder which measured blood pressure throughout a 24-hour period. These studies noted a circadian variation in blood pressure and also noted that blood pressure recorded during daily life was often lower than that recorded in the Doctor's office. This led to the concept of "white coat hypertension," namely, that the stress of being with one's physician may give a falsely high blood pressure reading. He was very interested in the relationship between stress, blood pressure, and the development of coronary artery disease.
His remarkable career is even more remarkable when one realizes that he spent seven years of his life in an orphanage. A native of New York, his family had moved to California where his mother died when he was six years old and his father was unable to care for him and his sister. From these humble and difficult beginnings, he was able to graduate from UC Berkeley, and from UCSF School of Medicine, receiving the Gold Headed Cane Award as the outstanding graduate in his class. During World War II he served on a hospital ship in the Pacific and developed an interest in tropical diseases. In many ways, he was a renaissance man with broad interests, including a great interest in all he met. He was a gentleman, and an articulate conversationalist, who was widely respected because of his broad knowledge. One of his important legacies was his textbook on cardiology which was translated into five languages. He will always be remembered as a superb cardiologist and a wonderful human being. He is survived by two of his three daughters and their families.