Benfotiamine, a derivative of vitamin B1, could speed up healing and increase the chance of survival, a study suggests.
Separate research also found that the substance can slow down the progression to heart failure in diabetics, which is a complication of the illness.
Professor Paolo Madeddu, who led the research at Bristol University, said the derivative played a crucial role in helping the heart recover.
He said: "We found the vitamin had a positive effect both in diabetic and non-diabetic mice. Supplementation with benfotiamine also helped prevent cardiovascular disease in mice with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
"We conclude that benfotiamine could be a novel treatment for people with diabetes, and the next step in this research will be testing whether similar effects are seen in humans."